By Martha C. White
July 20, 2016

In an era where craft beer tends to get all the love—as well as a large and growing portion of the nation’s beer money—one “macrobrew” is racking up big gains: Michelob Ultra, a light beer that has managed to transcend both the “light” label and the Big Beer stigma.

Beer drinkers’ love for microbrews has come at the expense of big beer brands, with heavyweights like Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors struggling to keep many of their big brands relevant while craft beer brands thrived, enjoying a 22% spike in sales in 2014.

As Bloomberg Businessweek magazine noted in a recent article, however, Michelob Ultra is a notable exception. Parent company Anheuser-Busch said Ultra increased 27% last year, making it one of the fastest-growing brands in the U.S.

Michelob wooed young, active, and health-conscious drinkers, initially by appealing to their diet-minded sensibilities with 95 calories and fewer than three grams of carbohydrates. It also setting itself apart from the rest of the light beer pack with a focus on fitness and active living.

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“The brand is really positioned around this active lifestyle space,” brand director Joe Lennon told Bloomberg during an evening boat cruise and stand-up paddleboarding promotional event in Miami. By setting itself apart as a beer for athletic types rather than for dieters and or hard-core partiers, Michelob has been able to run, bike, and paddleboard Ultra sales forward.

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