Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bud Light Morphs Again: takes on Blue Moon

Fresh off last year's apparently successful challenge to Corona with Bud Light Lime, another Bud Light line extension is in the works: Bud Light Golden Wheat. I missed the announcement on this back in mid-June, but the launch is coming up on October 5, so I'm still ahead a little...

Anyway, as you can clearly see by the graphic, this is a definite line extension keying off the BLL success...and it appears to have the same kind of targeting. Though the name might lead you to believe this is primarily a wheat beer, and the cloudiness might lead you to believe it's an "American hefeweizen," it's not. Check this out, from the St. Louis Business Journal:
The beer will use unfiltered wheat so it will look cloudier than its Bud Light counterpart and will have orange and coriander, also known as cilantro [no, actually, it's not], as ingredients to give it a bigger, sweeter taste, according to [vp of marketing Keith] Levy.
Uh-huh. I'm hoping Levy didn't say "The beer will use unfiltered wheat," because I hate when all that field dirt and bugs and such get into the mash... Kidding aside, clearly what we have here is yet another shot at Blue Moon that isn't Shocktop Light. Good idea to set it in the Bud Light family: what's Shocktop to most people?

Still, I'm guessing that this is going to cannibalize more Bud Light Lime than it eats Blue Moon. What these guys need to find is a winter Bud Light to balance the summer strength of Bud Light Lime, not another summer seller. Bud Light Posh Spice? Hey, I dunno, I'm just thinking out loud here...

16 comments:

Justin said...

Marketing is a funny thing. I won't touch a product associated with Bud Light, since I see it as an inferior product. I see Blue Moon capturing a segment of the beer market that Bud Light does not appeal to, and think you're spot on in that this new beer will cannibalize sales of BL Lime. The genius of Blue Moon is its complete separation from the Coors (MillerCoors I guess) brand, while being quite drinkable. Labeling something Bud Light makes it appeal to a market segment Bud has already captured and won't expand their customer base.

Jeff Frane said...

The "unfiltered wheat" was a stumper, all right. It's also very difficult for me to imagine any AB product that wasn't pasteurized, so "unfiltered, but pasteurized" . . . which is weird.

Lew Bryson said...

Oh, no, that makes sense, Frane. The haze in witbier is mostly protein from the raw wheat, not yeast.

Hey, something had to make sense!

Jeff Frane said...

Maybe. I'm curious what cooking does to protein haze, though. Not curious enough to actually drink any, mind you, but academically curious.

Lew Bryson said...

Mmm, nummy. Yeah, "cold-filtering" and "unfiltered" don't jibe, right?

Anonymous said...

Surprised it took this long. My guess for next is Bud Light "strawberry blonde" or Bud Light Belgian wheat to cash in on other training wheel type beers.

Lew Bryson said...

Might want to read a bit closer: this IS Bud Light Belgian Wheat. And if you really think Belgian Wheat/witbier is a "training wheels" beer, come on by the house so I can hit you upside the head with a bottle of Allagash White.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. i just know what I see, Lew, and that's a lot of middle aged men, young kids or chicks coming into my multi-tap and asking for wheat beer... or blue moon (which i *think* is a belgian white, but i never drank it), that is, IF they dont get their usual ultra or bud light. Sometimes they even look at what i'm drinking and say "wow, that's dark!"

That's how THESE beer googles see training wheels.

Lew Bryson said...

Why is that a bad thing? What I'm pointing out is that you've got an attitude: oh, that's the first beer you're drinking that isn't light beer? Well, you know, it's punk beer too.

I don't think we're going to win any friends by telling people the beer they drink isn't worthy. "Training wheels beer" is pretty beer-snobbish. Beer doesn't have to smack you in the chops to be good.

Juraj Jánošík said...

man so many beer affeciandos(aka geeks) are just plain mean people. Anything to make yourself feel superior eh anonym?

Anonymous said...

You guys got it wrong. I dont say anything negative to these folks about their beer. I dont give them attitude like Lew suggests. If they ask my opinion I give it to them.

Just noting my empirical evidence about the association between wheat beer and light beer drinkers, nothing more. I think the fact that the BIG brewers try to reach mass markets by coming out with "lime beers" and "belgian wheat beer" rather than old ales or imperial stouts shows that someone else, who makes a LOT more money than you and I, has noticed the association as well.

YOU implied that I have an attitude towards these people at the bar, and that's unfair. I just watch, observe and treat others as they would want to be treated. seriously.

Steven said...

"Beer doesn't have to smack you in the chops to be good."

Now where have I heard that before? :-D

Mmmm, Allagash!

Lew Bryson said...

Ok. I may be wrong, but I don't think it was unfair. Training wheels beer is an insult, but okay, maybe you don't say that to the people coming in; we didn't know that. You sure don't seem to have much respect for them, but you could easily be treating them like every other customer. I'd hope you would.

As for your other statement:
I think the fact that the BIG brewers try to reach mass markets by coming out with "lime beers" and "belgian wheat beer" rather than old ales or imperial stouts shows that someone else, who makes a LOT more money than you and I, has noticed the association as well.

Well, that doesn't take much experience with the beer market to figure out. Old ales and imperial stouts are a tiny part of sales in the craft beer category; why would the big brewers try to capture that market? The big sellers in craft, still, are pale ales (Bud American...roughly), wheat beers of some type (Shocktop, Blue Moon, BL GW), and "seasonals" (Full Moon, Pale Moon, Jack's Pumpkin Spice...).

That's where the sales are, of course that's where the bigs are going to go. If I'd been advising a big brewer five years ago on what beer to make to try to crash craft, my top three picks would have been beers similar to Harpoon IPA or SNPA, Allagash White or Franziskaner Hefe, and a pumpkin beer or a winter spiced beer.

They're going to go for the low-hanging fruit: craft drinkers who aren't heavily invested in the craft mystique, and non-craft drinkers who might be tempted by crossover beers. Don't try making a ballsy imperial stout just to prove you can, because even if it was 12 feet tall and covered with hair, true-blue craft drinkers would reject it because it wasn't "craft."

Lew Bryson said...

We're done with the comments on beer snobbery. A couple of them came through a bit flamey, so I put the kibosh to that. Back to the beer, folks!

Wurst/Whorst- Brewing Arts Instructor, CEO APRK said...

Bryson, here's where I'm coming from. The masses in general are stupid. They have difficulty thinking for themselves. So mentioning to someone that their Bud Light Ice is "training-wheels beer" is appropriate tongue and cheek banter. TTBC.

Lew Bryson said...

Now, there. THAT is the kind of beer snobbery you LIKE to see. I mean, if you're going to do it, do it with some style. Cheers, Whurrrzt.