Budweiser's decline will continue, strategy expert says

Jan 12, 2012 By Neil Schoenherr
Budweiser's decline will continue, strategy expert says

Coors Light has surpassed Budweiser as the No. 2 beer by shipments in the United States, foretelling a downward trend for full-calorie lagers that will continue, says a strategy expert at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Very few young people drink Budweiser, Coors or Miller today,” says William C. Finnie, PhD, adjunct professor of strategy at Olin Business School.

“Older beer drinkers like me still love Budweiser. But unless something amazing happens, the for full-calorie premium lagers like Bud will continue,” says Finnie, who worked in marketing analysis at Anheuser-Busch from 1965-1991.

This marks the first time since 1993 that Anheuser-Busch does not control both of the top two beer brands, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights. Bud Light remains the nation's top seller.

Budweiser has long dominated a market segment known as full-calorie lagers, which also includes Miller and Coors. This segment dominated the U.S. beer market in the early 1980s.

However, says Finnie, the full-calorie lager segment has been shrinking and will continue to shrink because the mass market has moved to light beers, and imports and craft beers have grown tremendously on the high end.

Finnie says that despite Budweiser’s decline, Anheuser-Busch InBev will continue to support the iconic brand with a large marketing effort.

“Budweiser is still No. 3 in volume, and at good margins,” he says. “It generates huge cash flow.”

Finnie worked on a study for Anheuser-Busch in the late 1990s, which showed Bud Light share increases actually help Budweiser, and vice versa.

“People are either regular beer drinkers or light beer drinkers,” he says. “Therefore, when Budweiser drinkers see a Bud Light ad, they see their brand being advertised. They don’t switch to Bud Light but it strengthens their loyalty to Bud.

“Similarly, Bud Light drinkers see their brand being advertised when they see a Bud ad. Therefore, advertising Bud will prevent its decline from accelerating and also support Bud Light,” he says.

is a beautiful product with an incredible heritage, Finnie argues.

“Some people still believe the right marketing program could turn it around, as it did in 1977, when we created the ‘For all you do, this Bud’s for you’ campaign,” he says. “And beer tastes could change. In 10 years, young beer drinkers may start moving back.”

Explore further: Performance measures for CEOs vary greatly, study finds

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Alcohol brands influence teen drinking preferences

Jul 06, 2011

American adolescents are hitting the hard stuff, according to a new report from Dartmouth Medical School and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health published in the July issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. ...

Advertising goes to the dogs

Oct 14, 2011

Nestle Purina’s latest commercial for its Beneful dog food, aimed directly at canines by using high-frequency noises inaudible to humans, should serve to increase the bond owners feel with their pets, ...

Alcohol ads still reaching youth on the radio

Sep 14, 2011

Almost 1 out of 11 radio ads for alcoholic beverages in 75 markets across the nation in 2009 failed to comply with the alcohol industry’s voluntary standard for the placement of advertising, according to an analysis ...

Recommended for you

Performance measures for CEOs vary greatly, study finds

4 hours ago

As companies file their annual proxy statements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this spring, a new study by Rice University and Cornell University shows just how S&P 500 companies have ...

Investment helps keep transport up to speed

9 hours ago

Greater investment in education and training for employees will be required to meet the future needs of the transport and logistics industry, according to recent reports by Monash University researchers.

Sharing = Stealing: Busting a copyright myth

Apr 11, 2014

Consumers copy and share digital files. This has been blamed for a potentially catastrophic decline in certain markets. But why do consumers copy? And is it as economically harmful as often thought?

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JeffLawson
not rated yet Jan 12, 2012
In England we drink real beer (bitter). That Bud stuff is awful :-)
Yenaldlooshi
1 / 5 (1) Jan 16, 2012
Bitter urinal beer. ...That's why the sun set on the empire.:-)

More news stories

Down's chromosome cause genome-wide disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors.

Researchers see hospitalization records as additional tool

Comparing hospitalization records with data reported to local boards of health presents a more accurate way to monitor how well communities track disease outbreaks, according to a paper published April 16 in the journal PLOS ON ...

Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

The Ebola virus that has killed scores of people in Guinea this year is a new strain—evidence that the disease did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations, scientists report.