Why Bud Light gave its new hard seltzer the family name

January 29, 2020, 9:33 PM UTC
Bud Light Seltzer
Bud Light Seltzer
Bud Light

If you’ve explored the beer aisle at your favorite local store lately you may have noticed that Bud Light has a new product, an alcoholic beverage that actually doesn’t contain any beer: Bud Light Seltzer.

Bud Light Seltzer is the brand’s official foray into the growing spiked seltzer trend. The drink comes in four flavors: black cherry, lemon-lime, strawberry, and mango and clocks in at 5% ABV and 100 calories, right on-par with its biggest competition: millennial favorite White Claw and Boston Beer’s Truly.

“Seltzer is a new, emerging category in the brewing industry,” says Bud Light’s VP of Marketing Andy Goeler. Hard Seltzers were responsible for over $1 billion in annual sales last year, and have become a go-to drink for calorie and alcohol conscious consumers.

A lot of those sales last year were of Bon & Viv spiked seltzer, which is also owned by Anheuser Busch In-Bev. For the Bud Light Seltzer, the brand decided to use the Bud Light name rather than create a new label in the hopes that it will help drive sales and perhaps overtake some of the other seltzer brands that might currently have a leg up in terms of name recognition.

“The Bud Light name and trademark Bud Light has a lot of brand equity and a lot of very positive brand equity,” says Goeler.

He says that launching the product under the Bud Light name rather than creating a new brand for the seltzer product comes with a number of advantages.

“Number one, it gives us the ability for people to identify with the brand immediately because we have such a large level of awareness out in the marketplace,” Goeler says. “Attaching the Bud Light name to the seltzer reaches a lot of consumers, a broad base of consumers, and is able to build awareness of the product fairly rapidly.”

Beyond making inroads with consumers, Goeler says that attaching the Bud Light name to the seller also helps the brand when it comes to securing coveted shelf space at retailers, a feat that’s often a huge hurtle for new brands.

“Having a Bud Light name attached to it, there’s kind of an expectation. And a reputation that retailers kind of relate to and with the Bud Light name on it we’re able to get the brand situated into a large number of accounts across the country,” Goeler says.

It’s also spending a good deal of money to make sure all that translates into sales. From January 1-19, Bud Light made up 37% of the entire beer industry’s spend on TV ads. It also outspent its biggest seltzer competitors.

As for who the brand thinks of as Bud Light Seltzer’s core audience, Goeler says they’re essentially targeting everyone. “With the Bud Light name on it,” he says, “it’s a fairly broad base of consumers. It’s definitely very male-female, it skews very co-ed in the product.”

Worth noting: Goeler says the name does, at times, inspire people to ask if there’s any Bud Light in the seltzer cans. The answer to that question is no, and the company has even enlisted the help of residents in Seltzer, Pa. to help clear up any confusion. Consumers can call the Seltzer hotline with questions toll-free at 1-833-BL-SELTZ.

“This is a new category and emerging category that there’s still a lot of questions that consumers have about seltzer,” says Goeler. A lot of questions, and a lot of anticipation for the future.  “We haven’t seen as much excitement in the brewing industry in quite a long time.” 

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