Partnering with a new agency will bring out a ‘contemporary’ angle to the brand, said AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito, in the earning’s call for the brewer’s latest quarter.
“The brand faced a tough market share comparable this quarter after a great quarter last year. We’re working hard to identify the right positioning and messaging for the brand, a new creative for 2016,” he said.
Packaging refresh, visual identity
Bud Light’s sales to retailers were down ‘low single digits’ in Q3, as well as in the year-to-date, with some share loss in the premium light segment.
The brand enjoyed strong performance in last year’s Q3, making a tough comparable for this quarter, said Brito. In particular, Q3 of 2014 benefited from the Up for Whatever activation and roll-out of the aluminium bottle.
In addition, the strong performance of other AB InBev brands in the US is putting pressure on Bud Light, Brito added.
But he promises changes to the visual identity and packaging to refresh the brand, partnering with a new agency, Wieden & Kennedy.
“We’re very excited to begin next year, we’re going to have what we think is going to be revolutionary in terms of trying to understand where the brand came from, and trying to learn from its amazing 20+ years history - from zero to market leading in the US - and playing that back in a more contemporary way,” said Brito.
“There’ll be also some packaging refresh and visual identity. So lots of things, that’s only fair for a brand of this size.
“We don’t believe in anything about brands having cycle. We believe in brands that are well managed and brands that could be better managed. And Bud Light is one of those that could be better managed, and that’s what we have for next year.”
However, Brito says work to boost Bud Light has already been seen in 2015 with the introduction of NFL tin cans, which he says have been well received by consumers. As the Official Beer of the NFL, the brand introduced 28 team-specific cans in August for the 2015-2016 season. Each can features a customized message ‘that speaks directly to each team’s passionate fan base.’
While AB InBev may consider Bud Light in need of a refresh in the US, the brand has been performing well in Mexico.
Total volumes for AB InBev in the country grew by 11.5% in the quarter, attributed to a favourable macroeconomic environment and Bud Light performances (as well as those from Corona and Victoria).
However, meeting increased demand for Bud Light has required drawing on imports from the US, raising costs.
“Bud Light in Mexico, we’re very excited, the brand’s on fire,” said Brito. “We still have some issues in terms of logistics, because we’re bringing some of it from the US, some of it being produced in Mexico.
“So we should tighten capacity, that’s why - among other things –we’re building a new brewery in the Yucatan Peninsula.”