Anheuser-Busch InBev is planning to market America's Heartland brew — Budweiser — to Brazil as a premium brand.
Its plan is do more than just tell Brazilians "This Bud's for you" in Portuguese. AB InBev is planning to sell the world's third-largest beer market (and other emerging markets) on the American Dream, as AB InBev CMO Chris Burggraeve comments to Bloomberg Businessweek.
The move also makes sense as beer sales in America have lost their momentum in the last five years. Imports and craft beers along with lower-calorie brews are taking away major chunks of the marketplace once dominated by some big-name brands. For companies such as MillerCoors and AB InBev, that’s meant the loss of beaucoup bucks.
Eight big-name beers have lost 30 percent or more of their sales between 2005 and 2010, according to a study of the 23 largest-selling beer products in America by 24/7 Wall St.
Most of these eight beers, including Budweiser, Miller Genuine Draft, Old Milwaukee, Milwaukee’s Best, and Michelob, are “full calorie” beers, meaning they are around 145 calories per can, MSNBC.com notes.
Bud sold 18 million barrels of beer in 2010, more than seven million fewer than it had in 2005. That’s one big river of cash drying up. During the same time period, Bud Light “held steady at just over 39 million barrels,” MSNBC adds.
The loss of sales to these beers does not mean Americans have stopped consuming beers, however. “Overall, sales of beer from 2005 to 2010 rose 1.9 million barrels to 208.4 million barrels,” according to MSNBC. “But sales of the top 20 brands dropped 10 million barrels to 149 million, a sign that Americans have turned to craft beers and imports.” The other beers on the list that have fallen dramatically are Milwaukee’s Best Light, Bud Select, and Michelob Light.
While InBev has been planning to turn Budweiser into a global brand ever since its mammoth $52 billion acquisition in 2008, it's now putting serious marketing muscle into its expansion strategy, starting with Brazil.
As the Rio Times notes, Budweiser marketers (through AB's Ambev arm) have hired UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, the MMA champ who also pushes Nike and Burger King in his native Brazil, to help promote the brand.
“The Spider” stars in a documentary titled “Budweiser Champion Experience,” a short film shown series (watch the trailer at top) that has been running on Budweiser’s Brazilian Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Beyond sports, the brand is looking to music and entertainment to connect with Brazilians, with the ubiquitous Rihanna recently signed as a brand ambassador to help propel Bud's popularity in Rio (and beyond) as part of the Bud Music Live initiative in the market.