Yearend numbers from Impact Databank, New York, show that among the losers were the nation's No. 1 beer, Budweiser, No. 3 Miller Lite, No. 4 Coors Light (in the brand's first share loss) and No. 5 Busch beer.
Of the top 10 beers only Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light, up 8.6% to 16.4 million barrels and No. 6 Natural Light, up 4.3% to 7.3 million, escaped the carnage; No. 9 Miller Brewing Co.'s Miller High Life was flat. As expected, Bud Light passed Miller Lite to be the nation's No. 2 beer.
"It's not too encouraging considering all the ice beers hitting the market," said Frank Walters, Impact's research director.
Impact reported overall shipments were down 0.3% to 187.7 million barrels, though it said brewers saw a rise in volume for premium-price products.
Miller Lite's continuing losses-it was down 7.3% to 15.3 million barrels last year-may spell the end of both the current Miller Lite ad campaign from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, and Miller's relationship with the agency.
Young & Rubicam, Chicago and New York, and Bates USA, New York, have both been hard at work recently on ideas for Lite with a decision on a new campaign or agency expected quickly.
Budweiser, which already switched campaigns and left D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, St. Louis, for DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago, dropped 5.7% to 38.4 million barrels, continuing its recent slide.
After accounting for inventory fluctuations due to labor negotiations, Mr. Walters said Bud was down about 3% in actual sales.
No. 4 Coors Light, which has been riding a growth curve through the 1980s and '90s, saw its shipments fall 0.8% to 12.4 million barrels. No. 7 Miller Genuine Draft also saw a 4.4% falloff to 6.5 million barrels.
Other losers included No. 5 Busch, down 5.4% to 8.7 million barrels; No. 8 Stroh Brewery Co.'s Milwaukee's Best, down 10.3% to 5.2 million; and No. 10 Old Milwaukee down 8.7% to 4.6 million.
The quick growth of ice beers-moving from less than 0.2% of industry volume in 1993 to 2.9% in 1994-explains some of the major brews' losses.