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September 28, 2010

Anheuser-Busch decides it will just give Budweiser away for free

By Rebecca Cullers on Tue Sep 28 2010

Free-beer

Flagging sales have caused Budweiser to declare Wednesday as "Budweiser National Happy Hour." Bud will hand out free samples from six ounces all the way up to 12, where the law allows, in "trendy bars and eateries." The goal is to appeal to the under-30 set who, according to Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Co., have adopted craft beer the way Gen X adopted wine. Bud's ranking among national product brands (not just beer) has dropped from 16th in 2003 to 220th in 2010, and Budweiser unit sales were down 9 percent last year. At the same time, craft-beer sales rose 9 percent in the first half of 2010, and craft brews nearly doubled their market share in 2009 (from 4 percent to 7 percent). Of course, free beer is only Bud's latest strategy. I think Anheuser-Busch will see a lot more success in continuing to buy small craft brews and distribute them without any Budweiser mention. Shock Top and Hop Hound, two of A-B's suds, are rebranded craft brews. Even if it's free, the only way you'll get die-hard craft fanatics like me to try Bud again is to change the recipe.

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