Bud Light is trying to ensure the Internet of Things includes beer. The nation's largest beer brand today is launching the "Bud-E Fridge" that promises to give drinkers real-time data on their fridge -- like how much beer is on hand -- via a mobile app.
The WiFi-connected refrigerator has a digital counter on the outside showing the number of beers inside. The information is also displayed on an app available for Apple and Android devices. Both the app and fridge include a countdown timer showing how long until the beer inside reaches its "optimal serving temperature" of below 32 degrees "without freezing them," according to the Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned brand.
Bud Light is also making an ecommerce play: When the fridge is low on brews, the app integrates with alcohol delivery service Saucey. It won't allow for automated ordering. But users can set up a stock point -- like "when I have 10 beers left" -- at which point they will get a push notification connecting to Saucey's app. Age-verification occurs in the Bud Light app and the Saucey app, as well as in person at delivery, according to an A-B InBev spokesman.
The fridge itself, which is covered in Bud Light branding, is initially only available to California residents who can order it at Budlight.com. The program could be expanded later, according to a spokeswoman. The manufacturer's suggested retail price is $599, but there is an introductory discount bringing the price to $299. It can hold 78 beers. Asked if the fridge works with any beer brand, a spokeswoman for the brewer said yes but added, "we certainly think it's best with a fresh, cold Bud Light."
"With the Bud-E Fridge, we've created something that shows how we continue to push the boundaries in technology and innovation, particularly in the connected home of the future, and provide beer drinkers with a new level of convenience to better enjoy Bud Light with their friends," Lucas Herscovici, the brewer's U.S. VP of Connections, said in a statement.
The app can also be set up to notify fans when their favorite NFL and NHL teams are playing so that as the game approaches they get beer supply level updates. A video promoting the fridge (above) shows an NFL fan using the functionality. Bud Light is an official sponsor of the league. The program was developed by the brand and a company called Buzz Products, which specializes in "end-to-end design and manufacturing for connected product solutions and the internet of things," according to its web site.
The fridge is an example of how A-B InBev under U.S. Marketing VP Jorn Socquet has sought to link experiences with digital marketing. The brewer has put a particular emphasis on trying to use its sports sponsorships for more than simple brand awareness.
Before taking the U.S. job in 2014, Mr. Socquet oversaw the brewer's Canadian marketing and was there when the brewer launched "Budweiser Red Lights" in the country for hockey fans. The program -- also developed by Buzz, according to its web site -- allows consumers to buy a WiFi-connected red light for their home, like the ones in NHL arenas.
The light can be set up to go off every time a fan's favorite hockey team scores. The first release of Bud's Red Light sold out in less than 24 hours and the initial campaign earned more than 30 million media impressions, according to Buzz Products. Budweiser's global agency is Anomaly.
Budweiser also sells a Budweiser-branded Bud-E Fridge in Canada.