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Friday, August 21, 2009

More Texture in the Beer Sales Numbers

Coupla days ago I mentioned that the craft beer segment managed to grow over the past six months, even while the economy jumped off the cliff. Today there's news that the macro market, on the other hand, has joined the economy in freefall:
  • Overall beer volumes are down 4.1%.
  • Bud Light volumes down 8.6%, losing an entire share point. Pricing up 67 cents per case.
  • Budweiser down 13.8%, losing an entire share point. Pricing up 78 cents a case.
  • Miller Lite down 11.5%, losing 0.6 share, with pricing up 79 cents per case.
  • Corona Extra down 4%, flat share, but with pricing down 74 cents a case.
  • Heineken down 12.8%, share 0.2, with pricing up 34 cents a case.
The trend is described a "more ghastly" than anything "since the doubling of the federal excise tax in 1991." But not every company is getting killed:
Maybe the third leg that holds the stool up is the two in-between brands that defy categorization, the brands that are neither premium nor craft nor sub-premium nor import. I'm talking about Yuengling and Pabst Blue Ribbon, and both are doing great. Yuengling and PBR are both up 31% in July on similar off-premise bases, with Yuengling up 85 cents a case and PBR up 90 cents a case.
As a discussion point, let's hear theories about why Pabst and craft beer are doing well while Bud and Corona are tanking. Don't get too cocky, either: for added points, you must explain why Coors Light has avoided Bud's fate and managed to eke out a 1.1% gain. Good luck!

(Hat tip: Lisa Morrison)


  1. PBR is a trade down play for cost. Craft beer is relatively cheap vs. good wine/spirits. Craft also likely bennefits from a push to buy local. As for Coors Light, I'd say its because they kept the marketing money flowing.

  2. I had my first PBR this week after hearing good things about it for a while. I really liked it. Based on that alone I would chalk it up to taste and price.

  3. As one of the few defenders of PBR on this blog, I'll agree with Anon there. Price/Taste value is one of the best out there. isn't an IIPA or hopped-to-the-gills amber ale. But for an light lager under $1/16oz....oh well.

    Coors...I'm not sure. Anecdotal evidence: I was out in Banks for their annual BBQ and combine demolition derby last weekend. Two beers were available, Coors and Coors light. Maybe it is gaining rural market share.

  4. I think I just threw up in my mouth!


  5. Are you sure you just didn't take a sip of Miller Lite dw? It can be tricky discerning. ;)

  6. What I find amazing is that Bud has so precipitously collapsed. I'm not prepared to call this a theory, but I do wonder if the InBev purchase has damaged a brand that had highlighted "Americanness" above all other virtues.

  7. @Ralph

    Miller? Our lips haven't touched a Bud, Miller, Coors or the like in 20+ years. ;-}

  8. haven't you seen all of the hipsters drinking pbr?...they're all over the place...bars, venues, restaurants, parties, and campsites...rarely lacking their oh so critical blue and white libating's still 3.2 beer though...might as well be in oklahoma

  9. Are those numbers for PBR the brand, or for the entire Pabst portfolio of brands? They have spent quite a bit of time recently updating some of their beers, such as releasing the classic '60's recipe Schlitz in the retro packaging last year. Or release Old Style fully krausened again early this year.

    Say what you will about the macros, but when it comes down to it, Pabst is making the best tasting.

  10. Generik - PBR is technically brewed by MillerCoors for Pabst.

    As for Coors I'd say they're still reaping the benefits of the JV with increased distribution and easier time getting into place that use to only carry ML and BL...