- Michelob Ultra has introduced 7-oz. bottles, which contain 1.5 grams of carbohydrates and 55 calories, the company said in a press release. The beer will be sold in select markets across the country later this month. The launch comes about a month after AB InBev introduced Michelob Ultra Pure Gold, made with organic grains.
- In a company press release, Azania Andrews, vice president of Michelob Ultra, said the beer maker hopes the 7-oz. bottles bring consumers a lighter option they can enjoy during the weeknights. “We know that some consumers opt to refrain from drinking during the weeknights,” he said.
- The approach could work: Smaller bottles and cans have done well with Coca-Cola and PepsiCo consumers, and have allowed the soda companies to charge more per ounce.
Michelob Ultra is taking its “active lifestyle beer” identity up a notch with the introduction of smaller bottles. AB InBev, which owns the brand, believes the new offering will drive even more sales among the guiltless indulgence crowd, coming in with fewer 40 calories than its flagship 12 oz. product.
With this rollout, AB InBev hopes to entice casual, health-conscious beer consumers to drink more often – specifically during the workweek – without compromising their fitness or work routines. This is a millennial sweet spot; many of these consumers are often too active and busy to be bothered by heavy-calorie beers or hangovers. As large beer companies struggle to find ways to grow and keep pace with wine, spirits and even craft brewers, Michelob Ultra is focusing its efforts on introducing products that people want; first organic beer and now a smaller volume brew with fewer calories.
Deloitte research recently found that consumer preferences for packaging sizes have shifted to include micro-packaging, individual serving packages and smaller products that cater to millennials’ preferences for mobility and speed.
Consumers aren’t the only winners here. Smaller packaging has been a successful initiative for soda giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Since introducing the smaller sizes, soda companies have slowed their sales decline and, in some cases, stabilized the business.
In January, Fortune reported that dollar sales grew last year by about 2% “because of the success Coke and other major soft drink makers have had in aggressively marketing smaller packages at higher price points.” Last month, James Quincey, Coca-Cola's CEO, reiterated the effectiveness of this approach. The mini cans, he said in a transcript provided by Seeking Alpha, experienced double-digit growth in Q4.
"As a consequence of our focus on smaller packages, transactions are growing a whole point faster than volume," Quincey said. "So we see that the strategy is driving us to the right place."
This success could very well translate to the beer market. Both soda and beer, after all, are indulgences where some consumers want to curb their consumption. A smaller package is a good way to find that balance.
For Michelob Ultra, the launch signifies a more diversified lineup for the brand and the potential to attract even more beer drinkers across a bigger range of occasions. After coming off a year of double-digit volume growth, this new offering is yet another reason for AB InBev to raise a toast.