As craft ales and ciders go from strength to strength in the US market, big-brewers’ brands of light beers are facing a 10-year-low in sales according to new market research.
Left out in the cold: Brands like Bud Light are suffering badly
A report by Impact Databank shows that since its peak in 2008, light beer has lost 8.3 million barrels from the US market – a decline of 8% – as consumers increasingly turn to more niche alternatives.
The overall U.S. beer market in 2013 mirrored this downward trend, with a total slip of 1.5% to 195m barrels according to the report.
But it is the light beer segment – led by giant brands like Bud Light and Coors Light – that has particularly suffered, falling 3.5% to 98.4m barrels.
The sector is projected to lose a further 4.9m barrels through 2015, reaching a 10-year low. Meanwhile, wine and spirits are forecast to capitalise with steady volume and share growth.
It is thought that the continuing tough economic conditions for young male drinkers – an important demographic for the light brew – is playing a key role in these figures, according to reports by Shanken News Daily.
Miller lite suffered worst of the big-three light brands
Last year marked the fifth consecutive year of decline for segment leader Bud Light, as it dropped by 3.1% to 37.6m barrels, with a further loss of 1.5m barrels expected by 2015.
David Almeida, vice president of sales at Anheuser-Busch – the American arm of Bud-brewer AB InBev – told Bloomberg: “We’ve seen shifts in the marketplace over the past decade, yet we’re well-positioned to respond to consumer trends.”
He also pointed to innovation in the Bud Light brand, including such new drinks as the Bud Light Lime Straw-Ber-Rita, as well as “significant marketing support and a new creative campaign” to help improve the prospects for the company’s signature light beer.
Meanwhile, after eight consecutive years of gains, the U.S. market’s number-two domestic beer brand, Coors Light, slid by 1.5% to 17.8m barrels last year.
Miller Lite suffered the worst year of the big-three light beer brands, posting a 5.9% slide to 13.7m barrels.
It hit a 13.9% share of the light beer sector – nowhere near its golden year of 1980, when it reportedly accounted for nearly two-thirds of the light beer segment, prior to the introduction of Bud Light the following year.