Budweiser tries putting same old beer in new cans

The bowtie-shaped 11.3-ounce container can't hide the fact that Bud sales have slid steeply in recent years.

By Jason Notte Apr 18, 2013 7:25AM
Credit: 2013 Anheuser-Busch
Caption: The New Budweiser Bowtie CanWhen Budweiser sales slip, it's clearly not the beer's fault: It's the cans.

Parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) has watched Budweiser's marketplace slide for a good, long while now. In 2011, MolsonCoors' (TAP) flagship product Coors Light replaced Bud as the No. 2 beer in the country, breaking the grip A-B held on the Top 2 since 1993.

While Coors Light sales grew 9% in the five years prior, Bud sales tanked 29%. It has lost more than 60% of its sales since its 50 million-barrel peak in 1988, when it accounted for more than 25% of all beer sold in the U.S. For some perspective, Budweiser once held market share close to that now held by both Miller and Coors brands combined (27%).

To combat this, A-B has commissioned its canning facility in Newburgh, N.Y., to make Budweiser cans shaped like bowties to claw back some of its lost sales. The cans are crimped in the middle, sold in eight-packs and hold 11.3 ounces of beer compared to the 12 found in regular cans. Always looking on the bright side, A-B notes that the missing 0.7 ounces knocks 8.5 calories off the content.

Budweiser could use a bit more of that one-sided optimism. Until Beer Marketer's Insights reported an estimated 0.6% uptick in Anheuser-Busch InBev sales for 2012, the big brewer had seen sales drop each year since 2008.

It has thrown just about everything at the wall trying to stop the bleeding. It has introduced "premium" brands like Budweiser Select, Budweiser American Ale, Bud Light Platinum, Budweiser Black Crown and Bud Light Lime margarita flavors. It purchased Chicago-based small brewer Goose Island from the Craft Brew Alliance (BREW) last year. It's hosting its "Made In America" music festival in Philadelphia this August with Beyonce and Nine Inch Nails, and it has been sponsoring pop culture site A.V. Club's A.V. Undercover performances in an attempt to get younger audiences to drink its declining brand.

Recently, it ran afoul of the Justice Department in a bid to take over Mexico-based Corona maker Modelo and was forced to redo the deal and give up U.S. distribution of Modelo products. The deal comes as imports and small American craft brewers take an increasing share of big brewers' market share and profits.

MolsonCoors' Miller brands have faced similar issues. According to AdAge, Vince Vaughn, "Hangover III" co-star Ken Jeong, former mixed martial arts star Chuck Lidell and drummer Questlove from The Roots are all slated to appear in a new round of Miller Lite ads. It's a step away from the Miller Lite "man up" campaign and a nod to the brand's "Miller Lite All-Stars" glory days of the mid-'70s and '80s.

Miller Lite's parent company also hopes a new bottle available only in bars and restaurants starting in May will help stop the slide.

As Boston Beer Co. (SAM) joins other craft brewers like Oskar Blues, 21st Amendment, Sierra Nevada and New Belgium by putting Samuel Adams in cans this summer, those breweries and their growing consumer base will only add to the pressures that have pushed A-B to squeeze its cans in the middle.

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Apr 18, 2013 9:33AM

well thats one way to give you less for your money


Apr 18, 2013 9:43AM
This makes a lot of sense?  Sales are way down so they make the cans smaller. No wonder the brand is falling apart.
Apr 18, 2013 9:39AM

Budweiser was a great beer until Anheuser-Busch sold out to a foreign brewer.  Since then, the new owners have done all they can to get their $h|t beer on the shelves and slowly kill the American beers.  Stell Artois is the worst f*(king beer there is.  Tastes like horse piss and probably is.


Now they go with this stupid bowtie can to reduce the volume of liquid yet charge the same price.  Makes more money for the foreigners.  Americans have no pride and will sell to the highest bidder outside the USA.  Traitors!

Apr 18, 2013 9:54AM
Bow tie can?  Looks like an empty that has been squeezed.  If AB wants to boost sales it should start looking at quality instead of gimmicks.
Apr 18, 2013 9:35AM
We thought it was beer until micro brewries came back and showed us what real beer was. Now it's just horse piss, the same as it always was only now we know.
Apr 18, 2013 9:30AM

The beer sucks, what more do they need to know?

Apr 18, 2013 9:45AM
C'mon Budweiser.... another large multi-national company taking advantage of the dumbing-down of the USA. Many people will continue to buy the beer even with fewer ounces... and soon the price will go up as a further insult. Maxwell House coffee has already pulled the same stunt ! 
Apr 18, 2013 10:00AM
Thanks to the buy out a few years ago, you jack your beer prices, cut all sponsor monies, and give your CEO'S millions is raised. Serves you right, so quit you pissing an moaning about it. Your new stupid can isn't going to fix your problem!
Apr 18, 2013 9:35AM
Bud is for people without taste BUDS. It is geared towards the younger crowd that doesn't know any better.
Apr 18, 2013 9:52AM

They will charge you more for it and you will get less beer!


Apr 18, 2013 9:36AM
Yeah, and it will still be an insipid, weak brew. Budweiser used to be my "go to" beer, you know, if I was out of town and couldn't get a local beer, there was always Bud. But over the years I've discovered the beer has virtually no flavor.  I drink Yuengling or Sam Adams Pale Ale.
Apr 18, 2013 9:51AM

Well, I've been a Bud drinker for many more years than I care to think about but I damn sure won't buy a can that has less beer in it than before just because it is crimped in the middle. The person that came up with that idea and the entire team that approved it should all be fired. Their beer has gotten weak, watery and smells pissy.

I'll spend more for a craft beer when I want a single or two. Think I'll go back to Miller for the weekends. It was a good beer in the 70's.

Apr 18, 2013 9:54AM

Here's less beer, but you get this funny shaped can...


Unfortunately, all too many people will fall for the trick.


Go drink a real beer.

Apr 18, 2013 9:45AM
You folks who say it tastes like horse piss, have you actually tried both.
Apr 18, 2013 11:42AM
Brilliant AB!   cut volume, cut quality, and pretty-up the can!   Do you really think America beer lovers are that shallow and stupid?
Apr 18, 2013 9:36AM
American beer and having sex in the bottom of a rowboat.
They are both f%&#ing close to water.

Apr 18, 2013 10:50AM
I never drink Bud. It give me a horrible headache. Coors and Miller Light never do that to me. The Bud folks need to go back to a better made beer soon or they will go the way of Schlitz and Pabst Blue Ribbon. They too were headaches in a can... 
Apr 18, 2013 10:13AM
no offense to anyone, but Bud sucks. It's just really awful, awful beer. I dont buy it, and the only reason I EVER drink it is cuz I dont want to be rude if someone offers me one...but sometimes I am. Just cant stand the stuff! And I LOVE beer! Ya know, in Germany you cant even CALL it beer (Bud) because of all the additives. Nasty, nasty product!
Apr 18, 2013 10:15AM
Given a choice between Budweiser and water, I'll drink the water every time.  Not only do I not like the beer, I really don't like the company.  In-Bev is living proof that bigger is usually NOT better.
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