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Bud Sales Down in U.S.

Budweiser Sales Down

In full year results announced by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the sale of Budweiser in the U.S. continued to slip. But increases in Brazil and China more than offset the slide in terms of total sales in 2014.

The volume of the company’s designated Global Brands of Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois grew by 5.4 percent, said CEO Carlos Alves Brito. “We believe we have the strongest portfolio of brands in the industry with 16 brands each generating over $1 billion in retail sales per year and more in the making through successful innovations, such as the Ritas.”

Brito said the overall trend of sales-to-retailers in the U.S. declined once again, falling 0.6 percent in 2014 compared to a decline of 1.8 percent in 2013. The sales-to-retailers by AB InBev trailed the U.S. market in 2014, declining by 1.7 percent. The company’s overall market share “declined by approximately 50 basis points in 2014,” said Brito. “This decline in share was driven mainly by Budweiser and the segment shift to the high end.”

In other lines, it was estimated that Bud Light gained share in premium lights, said Brito, and also holding share were the “above-premium” and “value brands.” Brito cited the new ad campaign for Bud Light – “Up For Whatever” – as the source of a gain in share in the premium light category. But in terms of total market share, Bud Light lost 20 basis points.

The CEO noted that its “Lost Dog” commercial during the Super Bowl took first place in the 2015 Ad Meter rankings. He said the controversial ad that first appeared during the Super Bowl and continues to air – “Brewed the Hard Way” – is part of an ongoing campaign designed to strike “a confident and bold new tone regarding the brand’s quality conventions.” He said feedback was positive from consumers, even though those in the rival craft brewing segment quickly released parodies and the company sought to downplay the criticism of craft drinkers featured in the ad through social media.

On the acquisition of the craft brands of Blue Point, 10 Barrel and Elysian in 2014, Brito said, “We look forward to learning from them and growing together.”

In a forward-looking statement for the U.S. market, he was optimistic that “an improving economy should help the industry return to growth.”

Outside the U.S., the company had its biggest gains in Brazil and China. Budweiser gained 500 basis points of market share during the World Cup and retained much of that after the tournament. In China, the designated Focus Brands of Budweiser and Harbin were up 7.8 percent in volume.