Wieden+Kennedy, the lead agency for regular Bud Light, is expected to handle the line extension, Ad Age confirmed. The February launch timing suggests Bud Light Next is likely to be plugged with a Super Bowl ad. An AB InBev spokesman declined to elaborate on marketing plans. “Innovation and creating products that meet consumers’ changing preferences is part of Bud Light’s DNA and Bud Light Next is the next piece in further building out our family of light alcohol beverages,” the spokesman said.
The line extension will arrive 40 years after Bud Light first hit shelves (originally marketed as Budweiser Light). The brand remains the top-selling beer in America by far, finishing 2021 with 12.4% market share, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights. But the brew has steadily lost market share in recent years as consumers gravitate to a host of new choices in the alcohol market—from hard seltzers and craft beers to ready-to-drink cocktails.
Bud Light has sought to keep pace with those trends by putting out new products including Bud Light Seltzer, which debuted in 2020 and was backed with a Super Bowl ad. But the brewer’s star brand remains Michelob Ultra, which has been riding a yearslong hot streak and finished last year with 5.6% market share, up from 4.9% in 2019, according to Beer Marketer’s. Ultra’s popularity has grown as a result of its longtime positioning as a low-carb beer suitable for people with active lifestyles. It has the same alcohol content as regular Bud Light but fewer carbs (2.6) and calories (95).
The trick for AB InBev will be to grow Bud Light Next without cannibalizing Mich Ultra sales. Asked about that, the AB InBev spokesman said in a statement: “Bud Light Next and Michelob Ultra meet different market needs. Bud Light remains the #1 beer brand in the industry and we are using the Bud Light moniker to bring the next generation of 21+ consumers into the beer category with Anheuser-Busch’s first-ever zero carb beer, Bud Light Next.”
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