The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Study shows generations prefer different beer brands

Spencer J Eggers/The Daily Campus
Until 2001, Budweiser was the No. 1 selling beer in America. Now, Bud Light holds that title.

Until 2001, Budweiser was the No. 1 selling beer in America. Now, Bud Light holds that title. (Spencer J Eggers/The Daily Campus)

Football season is in full swing and for many Americans, this means spending weekends cheering on their favorite teams with a cold beer in hand.

However, according to recent research of beer sales by 24/7 Wall Street, an investing website, there are eight beer brands you probably won’t see at any tailgate parties.

The data, collected from two studies, one by the SymphonyIRI group and another by Insights, Inc., showed that some of America’s most famous and classic beer brands’ sales have been steadily declining over the past five years, despite overall gains in the industry.

Total beer sales from 2005 to 2010 rose by 1.9 million barrels to a total of 208.4 million barrels. The studies looked at the 23 largest selling beer products in America and found eight brands whose sales have declined by more than 30 percent between 2006 and 2010.

Topping the list with the biggest decrease in sales is Michelob. Michelob sales dropped by 72 percent, to just 175,000 barrels in 2010.

Following in its heavier counterpart’s footsteps, Michelob Light has also seen a major decrease in sales. Sales of the beer have declined by 64 percent, to just over half a million barrels in 2010.

Another light beer, Bud Select, is also hurting for sales. Bud Select sales dropped by 60 percent from 2006 to 2010. The product was only introduced in 2005 and despite an initial marketing push, it never seemed to get off the ground.

“Marketing is absolutely vital to brewers,” Ben Bentzin, a lecturer in marketing at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, said. “A continuous high level of investment is required. That is why you see a heavy predominance of beer ads at major events like the Super Bowl.”

Milwaukee’s Best, one of Miller’s economy brands, had a drop in sales of close to 53 percent over the past four years. Sales for this particular brand have struggled due to competition from Pabst Blue Ribbon and Keystone.

Two other MillerCoors Brewing brands follow Milwaukee’s Best on the list. Miller Genuine Draft sales have dropped by around 50 percent, and Milwaukee’s Best Light sales fell by 34 percent. Old Milwaukee, a product of the Pabst brewing company, has also seen a drop in sales around 50 percent.

The brand has a strong regional following in the north Midwest, but its national following is quite low.

One of America’s most classic beers, Budweiser, rounded off the list. Its sales dropped by 30 percent, to around 18 million barrels. Budweiser was America’s best selling beer until 2001, when Bud Light beat it out.

Two brewing companies, Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors Brewing, produce all but one of the beers on the list.

However, most of the brands that made this list never received the amount of marketing that other, more successful products by these companies have.

“Brewers consolidate marketing funds and choose a few brands to focus on in order to keep brands current,” Bentzin said.

Analysts from 24/7 Wall Street believe that a national desire to cut calories any way possible has caused this decline, but three light beers, Milwaukee’s Best Light, Michelob Light and Bud Select, still made the list of “losers.”

“Some brands lend themselves more to being a light beer. Light beers that are more feminine tend to sell better,” Bentzin said. “A really masculine brand may not perform as well as a light beer.”

SMU senior Marshall Hernandez, a beer drinker with a special affinity for IPAs, also thinks this explanation seems off base.

“I think if someone is going to drink beer, they realize that there really isn’t a healthy way to do it,” Hernandez said.

The 24/7 Wall Street study also points to an increase in sales of imported beers as a possible cause.

“Most people who really enjoy beer realize that the best beer isn’t going to come from your local gas station, so they are willing to spend more money on nice imports,” Hernandez said. 

Senior Daly Hite is also an avid beer drinker.

Her favorite beer is Sweetwater 420, a microbrew from Atlanta, Ga., but like Hernandez, she isn’t too surprised by the shift to imports.

“A lot of imports like Corona are light without being an actual light beer,” Hite said. “I am sure that has contributed to the change.”

Bentzin attributes the sales drop for these brands to a lifestyle shift between generations of beer drinkers.

He believes it is a societal norm for people to choose a beer that conveys something about them as a person.

“Beer brands’ customers get old,” Bentzin said. “Beer drinkers tend to not drink the brands their parents drink and instead seek out new brands. It’s a challenge to keep a beer brand relevant.” 

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