Coors Light Knocks Budweiser from No. 2 Spot

By Jim Cohen | January 10, 2012 | 0 Comments |
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Who said that all light beer in America is on the fall? (We may have). Well, after a huge marketing campaign last year that also included celebrities like Ice Cube for part of it, Coors Light has knocked off Budweiser as the number 2 beer in the US.

The change in ranking is not that surprising to industry analysts. Coors Light has been gaining on Budweiser for years and many analysts began predicting its rise to No. 2 last year.

MillerCoors was extremely confident that they would overtake Budweiser. According to Chicago Business, Chief Marketing Officer Andy England told distributors early last year that “Budweiser is going down, baby.”

According to Beer Marketer’s Insights, Bud finished 2011 down 4.6% in shipments. This was its slowest decline in years, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Coors Light, which enjoyed a 0.8% increase. This represented that Coors Light shipped ~18.2 million barrels, while Budweiser only shipped ~17.7 million. Over the past five years, Coors Light is up 9%, which is incredibly successful in a segment that is losing out to craft beers and alternative options.

“Anytime you can dethrone the king, it's special," MillerCoors spokesman Pete Marino said after the report, according to Advertising Age. "We will celebrate this great accomplishment appropriately with our entire system who has worked hard to deliver outstanding growth on Coors Light for the past seven years."

This marks the first time since 1993, almost 20 years, that Anheuser-Busch did not control the top 2 brands in the country. Bud Light still remains on top of the list with a wide margin and doesn’t look like it will lose the title anytime soon.

Budweiser has seen over 60% drop since its 50 million barrel peak in 1988. Yes, that’s over 30 million barrels in reduced volumes in about 25 years! One of the key challenges was reaching a younger audience in a time when light beer is winning all the marketing dollars. Anheuser-Busch InBev has responded by increasing global distribution and trying to win additional market share in markets like Russia and Brazil.

Does this signal the end for Anheuser-Busch’s dominance? Probably not. The brewery still commands a large margin for its domination on the beer market. Additionally, while it may not be able to fight off consumer preferences, the megabrewery has enough cash to keep purchasing smaller breweries and focus on its craft brand.

One thing we know is that with Coors Light success comes the success of marketing gimmicks. In 2012, be sure that there will be a lot of effort to change how beer gets marketed to consumers.

Your Choice. Your Beer. Drink Up.
- Beer Universe

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