Special Report

Nine Beers Americans No Longer Drink

9. Labatt Blue
> Sales loss (2007-2012): 28.3%
> Brewer: Labatt (2007) / Molson Coors (2012)
> Barrels sold (2012): 650,000

The Labatt brewery started in Canada in 1847. Just over a century later, in 1951, the company introduced its Labatt Blue brand, which would go on to become one of the best-known Canadian beers — and, for a time, the most popular. Today, sales are declining in both the United States and Canada. The beer is fourth in sales in Canada and 40th in the U.S., down from 32nd in 2007. In Canada, market share declined from roughly 10% in 2000 to roughly 5% currently, according to The Toronto Star. The U.S. market share declined from 0.4% to 0.3% between 2007 and 2012.

8. Budweiser
> Sales loss (2007-2012): 28.8%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch Inbev
> Barrels sold (2012): 16,800,000

The self-proclaimed “king of beers,” Budweiser’s lager was originally sold in 1876 as the first brand available all across the country. For years, Budweiser was the most popular beer in the country, until Bud Light took its place in the early 2000s. Bud is now third-most popular behind Coors Light as well. Part of the reason for the beer’s decline was the increasing popularity of light beer. “The trend toward light beers really hurt Budweiser in the beginning of its decline,” Shepard said. Although the trend may be reversing. “There seems to be a shift away from light beer now as well,” Shepard added.

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7. Heineken Premium Light
> Sales loss (2007-2012): 36.7%
> Brewer: Heineken International
> Barrels sold (2012): 440,000

Unlike Budweiser, the move to light beer did not work well for Heineken. “It turns out that ‘import’ and ‘light’ are not synergistic terms. The only one that has been fairly successful has been Corona Light. It just seems like the Heineken drinker wasn’t looking for a light beer,” Shepard said. Earlier this year, however, Heineken announced its intention to give its light variety a boost by adding Cascade hops, a popular addition in craft beers. If the change helps boost sales, it will be much needed. Since its introduction in 2006, Heineken Light has not made much of an impact on the market. In 2007, sales made up just 0.3% of the market and declined to 0.2% in 2012, among the smallest market shares for a large non-craft beer brand.

6. Milwaukee’s Best Light
> Sales loss (2007-2012): 39.7%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels sold (2012): 1,110,000

MillerCoors has marketed the Milwaukee’s Best Light brand as a masculine, light and affordable beer since its debut in 1986. Milwaukee’s Best Light did well in 2007, shipping nearly 2 million barrels of beer, among the best-selling beers that year. According to Shepard, “the sub-premiums had a little bit of a bounceback early in the recession — because they’re lower-priced beers — but they’ve been slowly declining for years.” In an attempt to boost waning sales, MillerCoors has done several advertising campaigns in recent years, including sponsoring the World Series of Poker and offering consumers a chance to win a ticket to the 2010 card finals. Despite these efforts, beer sales have continued to decline. Between 2007 and last year, the brand barely sold 1.1 million barrels of beer, and market share has nearly halved, from 0.9% in 2007 to 0.5% in 2012.

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5. Old Milwaukee
> Sales loss (2007-2012): 54.0%
> Brewer: Pabst Brewing Company
> Barrels sold (2012): 400,000

Old Milwaukee, which is currently owned by Pabst Blue Ribbon brewing company, has been brewed since 1849. The brand, including its light variety, won a number of gold medals awarded by the Great American Beer Festival. In 2011, on his own initiative, comedian and actor Will Ferrell starred in a number of Old Milwaukee commercials free of charge. However, gold medals and marketing boosts did little to improve the brand’s downward trend. Old Milwaukee sold 470,000 less barrels of beer in 2012 than it did in 2007, more than a 50% decline in sales.

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