The world’s most valuable beer brands

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: getty/lightfieldstudios
Pic: getty/lightfieldstudios

Related tags Beer corona Budweiser Alcohol Heineken Carlsberg Ab inbev

With heavyweights such as Budweiser, Corona and Michelob Ultra jostling for the top spot, who is crowned as the world’s most valuable beer brand?

It’s been a good year for beer. Kantar’s annual BrandZ Most Valuable Global Brands Report 2024 sees the alcohol category return to growth, up 5% in total value. And that’s all thanks to beer brands: in fact, wine and spirits brands saw declines.

Kantar puts this down to inflation and cost-of-living challenges: ‘it would make sense that drinkers would look for ways to cut back on expensive adult beverages, returning instead to the more democratic world of beer.’

The crown goes to... Corona

Kantar’s brand report ranks the world’s top brands by combining financial analysis with brand equity.

corona

Corona has overtaken Budweiser to become the world’s most valuable beer brand.

In 2023, Kantar identified the brand as the fastest-growing brand by value; and over the past 12 months, Corona has lived up to those expectations.

It's strengthened its standing not only in its home market of Mexico, but also successfully drawn on these roots to increase sales volumes and revenues abroad.

In fact, Corona grew revenues outside Mexico by 22.1% in 2023, according to AB InBev's data.

Kantar BrandZ now puts the value of the brand at $19bn, which is even enough to earn it a place in the 100 most valuable global brands overall (a table led by Apple, Google and Microsoft).

'A brand born at the beach'

Marcel Marcondes, AB InBev’s global chief marketing officer, says Corona’s strength lies in combining emotional and functional points of difference ‘in a unique and consistent way’. 

"Emotionally speaking, what Corona stands for is that it inspires people to disconnect from stress, from routine - and to reconnect with their true selves," he said. "And that usually happens when you're outdoors.

"In everything that Corona does, we try to evoke that moment of having a break from the routine, a break where you can reconnect with nature, and reconnect with your true nature - to be yourself again, relax and enjoy the moment. 

"That's very powerful for any brand - and Corona does it very well.

"Now, the tough part is to make sure that this emotional side connects well with the functional side too. So if Corona is all about nature, on the functional side, it makes sense that Corona is made with 100% natural ingredients.

"If Corona is all about inviting people to be outside, it's important that Corona also takes care of the outside - we have a lot of programs in terms of plastic-free products, protecting beaches, removing plastic from the oceans."

Corona taps into those aspects with its 'brand born at the beach' positioning. That's lived out in events such as the Corona Sunsets Festival World Tour, a series of outdoor events in 11 countries with art, live music, workshops, performances, culinary experiences and a concert at dusk with the sunset as the backdrop.

The events were produced in partnership with non-profit Oceanic Global and designed to promote sustainability - another key part of the brand's story.

Once best known among beer drinkers for its simple classic lime serve, the brand has now been expanding its reach into new categories to reach new consumers: take for example, its Vit D launch in 2022​, and its 2020 Corona Hard Seltzer launch​.

Looking forward, Corona's alcohol-free brew is likely to play a key part in the brand's growth. Corona Cero was launched in 2022 and available in markets such as the US and UK.

The brand already doubled volume in 2023, exceeding expectations, and was the fastest growing low and no lager brand in the UK.

Corona Cero will take centerstage as the global beer sponsor at the Olympics in Paris this summer.

Budweiser grows consistently outside of the US

While missing out on the top spot, AB InBev's Budweiser continues to perform strongly.

The brand comes in at #2, with a chunky valuation just ahead of Heineken.

The world's most valuable beer brands

  • Corona ($19bn)
  • Budweiser ($13bn)
  • Heineken ($12bn)
  • Modelo ($11bn)
  • Brahma ($6bn)
  • Michelob Ultra ($6.5bn) 
  • Bud Light ($6.3bn)
  • Skol ($6bn)
  • Guinness ($4.5bn)
  • Stella Artois ($4.1bn)

8 out of the 10 most valuable global beer brands belong to the world’s largest brewer, AB InBev.

Corona and Modelo US brand licenses are owned by Constellation Brands; while AB InBev owns the brands in all other global markets.

Like Corona, Budweiser had a strong year of sales outside its home (US) market: with a strong uptick in revenue from China and India especially (India is now Budweiser’s fourth largest market – up from seventh in 2017).

The same is true for Stella Artois: which grew double-digit outside its home market of Belgium.

Rounding out AB InBev's global brands portfolio is Michelob Ultra: which - like Corona - will build brand equity through the Olympics this summer as official sponsor of Team USA.

Most valuable beer brand is the US: Modelo

In the US, Modelo has become the top selling beer, passing Bud Light. While its tempting to put that down to Bud Light’s politicized marketing drama, Modelo’s rise ‘has been entirely to its own credit’, says Kantar.

That’s because Modelo led the field in much of 2023 with its advertising spend, with a special and clear focus on sports. The goal of that advertising has been simple: retain its vast, loyal following among Hispanic drinkers, while increasing exposure to non-Hispanic segments.

How is brand value calculated?

The Kantar BrandZ valuation looks at the brands making the largest absolute dollar contribution to the total value of their parent companies, considering both current and future performance. But it also assesses consumer viewpoints to assess brand equity – ‘we strongly believe that how consumers feel about a brand determines its success or failure’.

To this end, the ranking questions if a brand is ‘meaningful’ (does it generate ‘love’ and meet expectations?), different (is it unique and/or ahead of the curve?) and salient (is it a brand that’s top of mind for a key need?).  

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