Ten years ago, Budweiser accounted for approximately 15 percent of America’s beer sales. The Wall Street Journal reports that Bud has since dropped to 8 percent, still a sizable chunk considering today’s options, but the company fears its principle market (ages 28-34) is “settling down,” a sure-fire sign that they’ll be drinking less. Bud’s parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev is shifting their marketing prowess to focus on the younger set, 44 percent of which have never even tried Budweiser. What this means is that the traditional Clydesdale holiday advertisements are no more. Instead, the focus of the current campaign asks the question: “If you could grab a Bud with any of your friends these holidays, who would it be?”
Furthermore, starting in 2015, AB InBev will continue to youth-ify their spots (think more DJs and Jay-Z) and sponsor food festivals (their target audience consists of “foodies”). Though AB InBev seems to understand that the twentysomethings include foodies, their efforts to attract this group doesn’t extend to altering or adding a recipe to compete with the craft brews that this age group drinks instead (“craft beer makes up 15% of their out-of-home purchases, compared with 10% for older generations … and it is growing …”). Instead, the tactic seems to focus on giving Budweiser a “party guy” edge, a message that’s already associated with Bud Light, Bud Light Lime and Lime-a-Rita, and misses the opportunity to create or improve a product, while eschewing its older, loyal audiences.
AB InBev may be at risk of cannibalizing its own products (indeed, Bud Light overtook Budweiser sales in 2001) while simultaneously going over the heads of “foodie” beer drinkers who gravitate towards quality. Perhaps the Clydesdales will be back next year. [Wall Street Journal] [Image: Flickr/Eye of the Storm]