Busch Light is flying off the shelves right now. Why? | Entertainment

From Austin Huguelet St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS — One of the hottest beers in the country right now is an old St. Louis staple.

From mid-May to mid-June, Busch Light’s sales volume jumped 4% over last year, placing it among the top three fastest-growing franchises in the industry.

“It’s great,” said Benj Steinman, president of trade publication Beer Marketer’s Insights.

It’s also a sign of the times: beer drinkers, tired of rising prices, are starting to choose cheaper “value” beers over more expensive “premium” brands. And Busch Light is the obvious choice to save: It’s the best-selling beer in the country, and Anheuser-Busch is working hard to keep it that way.

It’s not enough to offset AB’s struggles with larger legacy brands Budweiser and Bud Light, which continue to lose market share. But Busch Light’s winning streak is welcome nonetheless as managers work to sell more beer and boost revenue after a decade of underachievement.

Busch Light was first introduced here in the spring of 1989, when a six-pack cost $3.49.

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It was a derivative of Busch beer, designed to bolster AB’s range of soft drinks, then a rapidly growing segment of the industry. It was expected to generate a quarter of the sales of its namesake. Instead, it surpassed it.

It has continued to defy expectations in recent years. At a time when sales of light beers such as Bud Light, Miller Lite and Coors Light have plummeted, Busch Light has managed to increase market share in each of the past three years and is on track for a fourth despite an industry-wide decline in beer sales.

In a way, these are the times made for Busch Light, which can retail for 20% less than Bud Light in St. Louis. Inflation is at its highest level in 40 years, eating into consumer spending power.

And Busch Light generates a significant portion of its sales in a place where people are really pinched right now: the gas station.

Bud Light and Miller Lite consumers are more likely to choose Busch Light when they pay $6 a gallon to fill their tanks, said Harry Schumacher, editor of the trade publication Beer Business Daily.

“If they’re living paycheck to paycheck, they’re definitely going to go that route,” he said.

However, it’s not all about the price.

Anheuser-Busch has also done a good job of marketing its top sub-premium brand in ways its rivals haven’t, analysts said.

Influencers are promoting Busch Light on TikTok and Instagram as a staple of the outdoors, country life and Americana. Anheuser-Busch also paid to make it the official beer of the Country Music Association festival and starred in a Super Bowl commercial with smooth jazz legend Kenny G that aired in markets such as Nashville, Tennessee, and Buffalo, New York, where the company expressed interest is growing.

Busch Light also got into the flavored beer game with Busch Light Apple and put cans in special packaging as part of a campaign to support farmers. Last year beer cans were dressed up as corn cobs; this year they featured the John Deere logo and a big green tractor.

“It comes up every time I talk to a distributor,” said Steinman, president of Beer Marketer’s Insights. “The John Deere promotion worked.”

The next big promotion remains a mystery for now.

But with inflation expected to subside for a while and brewers including Anheuser-Busch planning price increases to compensate, Busch Light may not need one.

“When prices go up, people will trade down,” Schumacher said.

Austin Huguelet • 314-788-1651

@ahuguelet on Twitter

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