Analyst: 'Playing on the organic theme is a logical move'

Michelob Ultra launches beer made with organic grains, strengthening appeal to core consumers

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Michelob Ultra extends its brand strategy of targeting health-focussed, active adults with organic beer launch.
Michelob Ultra extends its brand strategy of targeting health-focussed, active adults with organic beer launch.

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Michelob Ultra has expanded its low-calorie portfolio with the launch of Michelob Ultra Pure Gold, a beer made with organic grains, further tapping into a growing consumer audience seeking a balanced, active lifestyle.

Third-party, non-profit, organic certification organization, Oregon Tilth (OTCO) provided the “Made With Organic”​ grains certification. The brand’s sustainability efforts extend to its packaging, having received the stamp of approval from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Michelob Ultra Pure Gold has 85 calories (10 fewer than Michelob Ultra), 2.5 carbs, and is free from artificial colors or flavorings. 

Organic Grain Sourcing:

Rice: Grown in Texas; milled in Louisiana

Malt: Grown in Idaho, California, and Oregon; milled in Vancouver, Washington

"We know organic ingredients are important, and with Michelob Ultra Pure Gold we're able to provide a new beer with a unique golden look and taste,"​ Azania Andrews, vice president of Michelob Ultra, said.

"We're tapping into the occasion of spending time outdoors with friends and soaking in the same nature that inspired our new brew​.

Unlike many big beer brands grasping for growth in the category, the Anheuser-Busch brand has maintained strong sales growth for the past ten financial quarters achieving its highest quarterly share gain in the past five years reaching 10% of the company’s total volume, according to AB InBev’s Q317 financial results. 

Michelob Ultra’s growth success has come from its ability to reach active, health-focused consumers looking for a premium drinking experience.

“Michelob Ultra has been successful by having a sharply defined brand identity, specifically through owning the exercise, outdoors and wellness space in beer. An organic beer serves to strengthen this positioning and could even provide a halo effect to the core brand,”​ Rabobank senior beverages analyst, Jim Watson told BeverageDaily.

“Playing on the organic theme in a line extension for Michelob Ultra is a logical move, and I think this is one of the few large brands that can pull it off.”

Not a beer brand, but a sports brand

Project manager John Bykowsky of New England Consulting Group (NECG), whose client list includes Anheuser Busch, told BeverageDaily, “When Michelob relaunched the brand they re-positioned themselves not as a beer brand, but as a sports brand. For people who are athletes, going organic makes a lot of sense.”

As such, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold will be continuing its professional athletic partnerships with professional US surfer and advocate for sustainability and environmental causes, Kelly Slater, who will represent Michelob Ultra Pure Gold throughout the year.

Founder and CEO of NECG, Gary Stibel, added that the choice of Kelly Slater as the face of the brand will be “hugely successful”​ because it is in-tune with their aspirational, athletic image: a brand message that was not conveyed with the Michelob Ultra’s past Super Bowl ads featuring US actor Chris Pratt.

“We think that the Chris Pratt executions at the Super Bowl were fun and silly, but Michelob Ultra is not a silly brand. It’s for people who care about the way they look, care about the way they feel…They’re people who like to play hard and work hard,” ​Stibel said.

“If they use Kelly Slater the way he should be used, as a serious athlete who wouldn’t drink just any beer, but would drink one that is good for him, then it’ll be hugely successful and on-trend.”

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