Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bud Light, Budweiser Market Share Losses Continue in U.S

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bud Light, Budweiser Market Share Losses Continue in U.S

Article excerpt

Faced with declining U.S. sales volume, Anheuser-Busch InBev is looking to complete its acquisition of SABMiller this year to bolster its business globally.

Belgium-based A-B InBev, which has its U.S. headquarters in St. Louis, said Thursday that its sales to U.S. retailers fell 1.7 percent in 2015 and 1.1 percent in the fourth quarter. Companywide, total volume declined by 0.6 percent in 2015 and 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter.

"This is obviously not where we want to be," CEO Carlos Brito said in a conference call with analysts Thursday morning.

Bud Light, the top-selling U.S. beer brand, saw sales to retailers decline in the low single digits in 2015 and in the fourth quarter, dragging U.S. profits in the quarter down 7 percent.

Despite declining market shares of flagship brands Bud Light and Budweiser, A-B remains the top seller of beer in the U.S., with 46.4 percent market share, based on sales to retailers.

The brewer is increasing its marketing investment in Bud Light and recently tapped a new ad agency, New York's Wieden + Kennedy, as its lead creative agency for the brand in the U.S. In April, Bud Light bottles and cans will get their first makeover in eight years, with the A-B crest returning on redesigned labels.

Sales for Budweiser in the U.S. are improving, with sales to retailers showing the best improvement in a more than decade, Brito said. He cited the brand's new label design and advertising touting Budweiser's brewing heritage, as sales drivers. "The Brewed the Hard Way (campaign) has struck a chord with many drinkers," Brito said.

Other bright spots for the brewer in the U.S. were strong sales growth for Michelob Ultra, Stella Artois and Goose Island, which each had double-digit volume growth in 2015.

"Michelob Ultra is on fire," Brito said.

The brewer also has a pipeline of new products. After the recent launching of its Best Damn Root Beer, another hard soda beverage will hit store shelves March 7: Best Damn Cherry Cola. …

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