- Anheuser-Busch released its first zero-proof beer under the Budweiser brand called Budweiser Zero. The new brand is released in collaboration with former Miami Heat NBA player Dwyane Wade who will appear in the product’s advertising.
- The nonalcoholic beer, which has 50 calories and zero sugar, comes in 12-packs with 12-ounce or 16-ounce cans. In December, Budweiser will add 6-packs of 12-ounce bottles. Although alcohol-free, the beer will only be for sale for those that are 21 years or older.
- Wade said in a release that Budweiser Zero is crafted for athletes who do not want the after-effects of alcohol while training or competing. The beer is also marketed toward consumers who want "a balanced lifestyle."
Earlier this year, AB InBev's Vice President Adam Warrington said the company plans to have 20% of its global beer volumes coming from no- and low-alcohol beers by 2025. After releasing four new low-alcohol beers in January, the corporation is now tapping into its most iconic brand to release a nonalcoholic brew.
Alcohol consumption is shifting. Not only are consumers moving away from traditional American lagers in favor of spirits, craft brews and Mexican and other imported beers, but a new subset of zero-proof drinkers is forming. What used to be a movement relegated to Dry January, when people abstain or limit alcohol consumption, has become a year-long lifestyle for many. U.S. bottled low- and no-alcohol beverages are projected to jump about 32% between 2018 and 2022 — three times their growth in the previous five years — according to IWSR cited in the Wall Street Journal.
At the same time that this segment is growing, traditional beer is fizzing out in popularity. Beer volumes were down 1.5% this year, compared to a 1.1% drop in 2017, according to IWSR data. Despite a growing trend away from beer and toward alcohol-free alternatives, it has taken AB InBev a while to debut a zero-proof option under its flagship brand.
Since beer retains the title of the most popular category for low-alcohol beverages, according to a study from Wine Intelligence, Budweiser finds itself entering a crowded space where taste and brand play an important role in attracting consumers. By associating the Budweiser Zero release with Wade, AB InBev is looking to bring legitimacy and attention to its brand that may otherwise get lost in the sea of competitors, many of whom have already released nonalcoholic versions of some of the most traditionally popular brews. Heineken unveiled its 0.0% MAXX in 2017 and Coors offers its own nonalcoholic brand. Guinness owner Diageo sells Open Gate Pure Brew, and Carlsberg has been making no-alcohol beers since 2015.
This latest release under the Budweiser brand shows a company trying to innovate beyond its legacy to expand its reach. Last year, Bud Light debuted nutrition labels on its 12-ounce beers featuring the total number of calories and carbohydrates, as well as highlighting that it's made from just four ingredients. Although clean label is not generally associated with beer, this move was an opportunity for the brand to highlight its lower calorie content, an attribute that has continued to be appealing for consumers. The effort seems to be paying off. According to an IRI Worldwide report, the three top-selling beers in the U.S. are Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite — all reduced-calorie domestic lagers.