Busch Light: What is Their Brand Growth Secret?

What can we learn about brand growth from Busch Light?

Let’s take a deep dive into all their marketing secrets.

I think we are all familiar with Bud Light at this point. As the leader in U.S. beer sales for the past several years, we are inundated with their advertising. If you were to take a crude poll (I did this in our office, just for kicks) I think you’d find that most people familiar with both brands could think of a Bud Light ad/commercial right off the bat, but Busch Light took a little more thinking.

“Official” NewPoint Poll:

Bud Light: 5/5
Football Superstition commercial
Dilly Dilly commercials x2
Wassssup commercials
Frog commercials (even though this was technically Budweiser, they associated it with Bud Light, so I’ll count it. We aren’t being scientific here.)

Busch Light: 1/5
Busch Light got ONE person, other than me, to come up with an ad for Busch Light—kinda.
“‘Head for the mountains of Busch’ …Is that right?” —KB
Note: I was thoroughly confused by this and had to look it up. This was a Busch commercial (before Busch Light came along), aired before I was born.

No one is arguing that Bud Light isn’t the powerhouse of beer, but in terms of brand growth,

Let’s look at some numbers:

Bud Light vs. Busch Light Growth
Change in # of barrels shipped from 2016-2017
Bud Light Change: -6.2%
Busch Light Change: +0.4%
Change in # of barrels shipped from 2018-2019
Bud Light Change: -7.3%
Busch Light Change: +1.6%
Market share change from 2016 compared to 2019:
Bud Light: -2.16%
Busch Light: +.07%

 

Fast-forward a few years and the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020. I’m sure it will come as no surprise that consumers across the board switched to lighter, cheaper beer. But this stat from April 30, 2020 might blow you away:

When it came to the % change of average spend:
Busch Light was #1 BY FAR at an increase of +44.4%
Miller Lite was second with an increase of +17.2%
Powerhouse Bud Light came in at #7 with an increase of +5.8%

 

CHANGE IN SPEND

OK, enough numbers. We are marketers, not statisticians.

What has Busch Light been doing to cause this brand growth, and how can we learn from it?

What we saw in my informal survey of my coworkers, is that it seems people are much more familiar with Bud Light commercials than a Busch Light ad of any kind. However, because my husband is a Busch Light drinker, and I’m in the marketing field, I have been paying some closer attention to their marketing tactics that the public may not notice.

It seems as rather than use the seemingly spray-and-pray/awareness marketing technique that Bud Light has been using recently, Busch Light has been zoning in on figuring out what really resonates with their current consumer base. They seem to be focusing on marketing to their  “super fan” consumers rather than trying to get anyone and everyone to buy.

How do we know that? Here are a few examples that I’ve noticed:

They change their cans regularly based on their fan base. They have a can for deer hunting season, Midwest corn harvest, they even temporarily changed the name on their cans from “Busch Light” to “Busch Latte” after finding the hashtag #BuschLatte used hundreds of times each month by consumers referring to Busch Light.

busch light cans

Here is another interesting tidbit that may tell us this upward growth isn’t slowing down any: Bud Light ships over 4X the amount of Busch Light and has more than 10X its market share, yet Bud Light has less than double the amount of Instagram followers, the most popular social media platform for young users (67% of 18 to 29-year-olds use the site). And you’ll notice that the content is different. While Bud Light’s Instagram focuses on products and merch, Busch’s feed is filled with memes, user-generated content, You Betcha Videos and more. Their content feels less like a brand or more professional account, and more like a friend. Bonus: Busch Light also has an unofficial fan page with over 28k followers.

In a Forbes Article written April 2020, Todd Dipaola, CEO of InMarket, said, in regards to the 44% increase: “The beer we saw grow the fastest, Busch Light, had a very specific marketing campaign, that for every inch of snow in certain areas, they’d take a dollar off Busch Light”. This is the kind of creative advertising that can get consumers to really pay attention to your brand, follow you on social media, check-in on your website, and keep you top of mind when shopping.

Another final way Busch Light connects with its audience, and this isn’t an uncommon strategy, but important none-the-less: They run campaigns that donate to causes important to their buyers, such as Ducks Unlimited (to conserve, restore, and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl) and the National Forest Foundation (to help conserve nearly 200 million acres of forests). By doing this, they are showing that they are listening to their consumers, with the added bonus of increasing their social media engagement.

In conclusion, you don’t need to have the budget to run a Super Bowl ad to create brand growth. Just borrow a few tactical secrets from Buschhhhhhhhhh Light.

If you have any questions about how to grow your brand, please reach out to the NewPoint team. If you are interested in more food brand marketing topics, please visit our Food for Thought page or check out NewPoint’s Patrick Nycz’s book: Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain.