Don't Let This Happen to You

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Ad Age asked alcohol-industry experts for takeaways from Budweiser Select's struggles. Here's what we heard:

Define your brand, not just its target: Everyone who's seen a Bud Select ad knows A-B is selling to young urbanites, but not everyone gets what it's selling them. The Bud Select brand name doesn't adequately communicate the beer's premium light pedigree. "It's safe to say that Bud Select has failed to carve out a distinctive niche," said Benj Steinman, publisher of Beer Marketer's Insights.

If you're going to try to sell a brand as a premium product, you have to price it like one: A-B priced Bud Select even with its Bud family peers, creating confusion over whether its drinkers were really trading up. "They made a mistake by not coming in high," said BevMark President Tom Pirko.

Don't worry about being polite: A-B earlier hoped to tout Select as an aftertaste-free beer, but wholesalers protested, saying it would imply other A-B beers had a foul aftertaste. The vague tagline that followed, "Expect Everything," is cited as partially responsible for the beer's identity crisis. "If you're introducing a new category, the last thing you want to do is listen to wholesalers who don't understand what you're trying to do," Mr. Pirko said.

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