The light beer revolution that was launched in the mid-1970s has been having a rough time lately. Though the global market for light beet remains around $50 billion annually, beer sales in general and light beer sales in particular have been declining.
A joint venture between Molson Coors Brewing Co. (NYSE: TAP) and SABMiller (OTC: SBMRY.PK), dubbed MillerCoors LLC, is getting ready to spend big on advertising in the next few months to try to convince drinkers to come back to the light stuff. Anheuser Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD), brewers of Bud Light, hasn’t announced a new ad push, but clearly the company also has something to protect. Brewers are losing share, and shelf space, to wines and craft beers and need somehow to halt the slide.
A report at Bloomberg News notes that four of the top five selling beers in the US are light beers, which would seem to be good news. But that’s only part of the story:
Still, as consumers turn to more exciting alternatives, U.S. beer sales volumes have dropped for three straight years, including a 1.5 percent decline in 2011, according to the Beverage Information Group, a Norwalk, Connecticut-based researcher. Coors Light — the only Top 5 U.S. beer still growing — posted a 1 percent increase last year, the same as in 2010.
Advertising made Miller Light and Coors Light the phenomena they became. Now it has to pull off the same trick again, to breathe some new life into a product whose time may be past.