Coors Light becomes No. 2 beer

The iconic Budweiser brand continues a long slide out of favor with American drinkers, falling to third place.

By Kim Peterson Jan 9, 2012 4:57PM
Image: Beer (© Corbis)Coors Light has officially booted Budweiser to become the No. 2 beer in America.

If Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) isn't panicking yet, it should be. This is the first time in nearly two decades that Anheuser-Busch hasn't controlled the top two beers in the country. The King of Beers is on its way to becoming court jester.

Budweiser has seen sales drop for years, and ran into serious trouble in 2009 and 2010. Last year wasn't as bad, but shipments still fell 4.6%, according to trade publication Beer Marketer's Insights. Coors Light shipments rose less than 1%, but that was enough to move it into second place.

The No. 1 brand is still the ubiquitous Bud Light. But since 1988, shipments of the Budweiser label have dropped by more than 60%. Ouch.

Coors Light and Budweiser are still neck and neck. Coors Light shipped 18.2 million barrels last year and Budweiser shipped 17.7 million.

"Anytime you can dethrone the king, it's special," a MillerCoors spokesman told Advertising Age. An Anheuser-Busch spokesman was less celebratory, saying the company was on track with a strategy to stabilize Budweiser.

Investors seem to be losing a little enthusiasm for beer stocks, Beer Marketer's Insights reports. Anheuser-Busch is still doing better than any other brewer, but its gains slowed to 10.5% last year from 18% in 2010. SABMiller (SBMRF) was up less than 1% last year, and Heineken (HINKF) fell 14%.

What can Budweiser do to turn its decades-long slide around? The company seems to be trying everything from dressing up its cans with bow ties to telling drinkers to "Grab some buds" in new music-heavy commercials. Anheuser-Busch even handed out free samples of Budweiser at trendy bars and restaurants.

Meanwhile, Coors Light has pushed a cool and refreshing theme, introducing cold-activated bottles and cans.

While Budweiser is slipping, craft beers are still riding a huge wave of momentum. Boston Beer Co. (SAM) shares have absolutely been on fire since October, rising more than 30%.



Jan 9, 2012 5:38PM
Buy American!  Bud is owned by Holland's tycoons. 
Jan 9, 2012 5:36PM

i want to know how they manage to sell anything considering how awful the stuff is!!!


the top three beers are three of the worst beers in their category....that being m****duced(god,get a censoring program that works please!) low alcohol mostly water beer marketed at idiots who buy anything they see in a commercial....the same people keeping mcdonalds and the reality tv industry alive and well

Yuengling of Pottstown, PA is the oldest brewery in the USA.  Try it
Jan 10, 2012 9:32AM
I no longer buy bud, or coors, since they were purchased by foreign cos. switched to Yuengling lager, american made, family owned. BUY AMERICAN, save your job!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jan 10, 2012 4:53PM
I stopped drinking Anheuser-Busch products when it stopped being an American company.  I'm glad they are losing to an American Compay!!!!
Jan 10, 2012 5:05PM
I use to drink Budweiser but I cannot now.  I only drink American beer
Jan 9, 2012 7:41PM

I cant speak for everyone else... but for me, as a proud American, I loved Budweiser after a long hard day at work. After they sold out, it hasnt tasted the same since.. shame on you Budweiser! As one of your biggest fans I gotta say that when your biggest following was hard working Americans and you preach pride in being "American" your sell-out followed by rising costs is ecactly why you are slipping. You are getting exactly what you deserve... If times were tough, you shouldve stuck it out with the rest of us!

Jan 10, 2012 8:40AM
Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite - who cares?  They all taste like water. 
America has the finest mirobreweries in the world.  Buy local, buy American
Jan 9, 2012 5:43PM

Want a  pounding headache?  This Bud's for you.

Jan 9, 2012 6:10PM
I bought my last Bud the day  it was sold  to a foreign company. I will not buy or drink  another  as long as it is .  We still have American owned brewers  and that is were i want my money to go  to American Companies , and  American Workers,  
Jan 10, 2012 3:34AM
I used to like to try some of the micro-brews, I tried lagers, ales and dark beers. Now, I definitely would never go out to a bar and have a beer. Here in this area of the Midwest, Humans who dare drink at a bar and drive home become part of the law enforcement and courts and jails inventory. Especially since the economy went bad, where I live the cops will pick you even for walking home from the bars. They patrol the bar scene every night on a heavy duty basis and arrest anyone they can get their hands on, then they beat and batter them around a little and lay about 3 or 4 charges on them so the bar patron will take almost whatever plea agreement the prosecutors put in front of them. The arrest and conviction sections of the news papers are almost 100% minor alcohol related offences. It's got to be one of the biggest industries in this area.
Jan 10, 2012 1:00AM
Why again do people need to whip out their e-peen's when talking about beer?  Is there any good reason you can't like craft beer as well as bud light?  For me it depends on the situation.  On a hot summer day I'll take a bud light, or a Mythos, or Amstel or something light.  Out at a bar without much selection I'll take a Newcastle (on tap of course) or a Blue Moon, or something common but tasty.  If I'm travelling I'll try a local micro.

And what's with all the people who know what piss tastes like?
Jan 10, 2012 1:15PM
the best tasting beer is the beer you like the best.
Jan 9, 2012 8:16PM
Haven't touched a Budweiser since the company was sold.
Jan 9, 2012 5:34PM
I don't know how these beers stay at the top they both suck. There are a lot more craft brews out there that people take time and pride in crafting not just making some generic tasting crap beer.
Jan 10, 2012 8:17AM
Coors light taste like water with a little pee in it!!
Jan 9, 2012 8:06PM
When the new (foreign) owners of budweiser dropped kenny bernstein's top fuel drag racing sponsorship 3-4 yrs ago, it has all been down hill???  Hello, advertising works; in drag racing especially!  when they killed the bud king top fuel dragster team; the king was truley dead!!!     Another sad story of a foreign company buying an american iconic company and thinking they know how to run it better???  Americans do not think like the rest of the world;  Get the message yet??  You to obama;  We do not want to be like europe, our forefathers escaped from there;  geeze,  granolas just don't get it;  (A lot of us quit drinking bud when they sold out;)
Jan 9, 2012 7:34PM

Buy local microbrews and send Anheuser-Busch the message they need to hear.

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