Budweiser Ditching Clydesdales to Attract Younger Drinkers - Update

| 24 Nov 2014 17:09

Budweiser's market share has been reduced to 7.6%, leading the Anheuser-Busch company to rethink its marketing plan in hopes of attracting a younger generation.

Update: In response to the Wall Street Journal article sourced below, Anheuser-Busch has responded that the report left the "wrong impression" and the Clydesdales will, in fact, be part of Budweiser's holiday and Super Bowl advertisements. CNN reports that the iconic horses will be featured in "responsible drinking advertising" over the upcoming holiday season; there was no mention of how "responsible drinking" differs from the commerical for 20-somethings detailed in the WSJ's report. So, panic not: Budweiser was just horsing around, and the Clydesdales will make a triumphant return to your TV screens and hearts.

Original story: The iconic Clydesdale horses have been a staple of Budweiser's holiday season and Super Bowl advertising since 1986, but this year Bud is ditching the horses in favor of targeting ads at a younger, craft-beer-guzzling crowd. Once the proud King of Beers, Budweiser's share of the beer-drinking market has been slipping for a quarter of a century. The rise of light beers, craft beers, and flavored malts have resulted in a 9% decline in Budweiser shipments since 2011, and 44% of beer drinkers in the desirable 21-to-27-year-old range have never even tried it. As a result, future Budweiser promotions will be concentrated solely on that age range, and the Clydesdales are apparently too old-fashioned to warrant a Super Bowl appearance in 2015.

Ditching the iconic team of Budweiser ponies isn't the only change the Anheuser-Busch company will be making to regain market share, of which it currently holds only 7.6%; a new series of advertisements will feature 20-somethings sharing the names of the friends they'd like to share a Bud with. However, while it might be looking for a way to appeal to younger drinkers, don't expect Budweiser to forget its roots. "If you try to be too young and too hip, you lose your base. They'll say, 'That's not my Budweiser anymore,'" says former Anheuser-Busch senior marketing exec Tony Ponturo.

It's not hard to see why beer drinkers in that age range aren't particularly interested in Budweiser; craft beer is far more popular with the 21-to-27 crowd, as well as "cider, flavored-malt beverages, and ready-to-drink cocktails," according to the Wall Street Journal. But as the biggest drinkers since the Baby Boom, there's no way Budweiser can simply write that age range off; instead, they need an approach that will appear to a younger age range while not alienating existing Budweiser fans. "You're dealing with a 21- to 27-group that's open to change," said Budweiser distributor Mike Gretz. "It won't be their No. 1 brand but it will be in the purchase tent." We'll have to wait and see if this new approach is successful, but it's a bit sad that Budweiser is putting an end to a long era defined by some of the most touching, memorable Super Bowl commercials ever. It's not immediately clear what this means for the Clydesdales in the long-term, but just don't expect to see those familiar horses gracing your TV screens this holiday season.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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