After besting Bud Light in a series of promotional blind taste tests across the country this year, Miller Lite decided to raise the stakes.
It would take on its biggest competitor on its home turf: St. Louis, the home and birthplace of Bud Light parent Anheuser-Busch.
Over the last six months, Miller Lite has conducted a “Know Your Beer” promotional campaign across the country, inviting some 350,000 legal-drinking-age adults to take a blind taste test in which they evaluate beer on color, aroma and taste. In the end, participants are asked to choose between Miller Lite and Bud Light, the top-selling beer in the country.
The results: 72 percent of participants chose Miller Lite over Bud Light nationwide. Even more striking: 76 percent of roughly 360 taste testers in Bud’s hometown of St. Louis chose Miller Lite.
“We are always confident in our beer, but I was floored by their responses,” says Courtney Bryant, marketing manager for Miller Lite. In the St. Louis promotional taste test, conducted in a sampling of bars over three days in early September, participants “were loyal Bud Light drinkers and were so sure they liked Bud Light that their minds were blown when they went through the taste test and chose Miller Lite.”
Matthew Kohan, a spokesman for Anheuser-Busch, declines to comment.
The campaign, Bryant says, aims to convince Bud Light drinkers to reconsider Miller Lite, which the brand team says has more taste, color and aroma yet fewer calories than its biggest competitor. So far, she says, it appears to be working. “We’re getting people to re-consider Miller Lite because of this program, and part of it is because we’re not shoving heavy-handed marketing down their throats; we’re giving them five minutes to pause, and think about how their beer looks, how it smells and how it tastes.”
Video footage from the tests, which were conducted by promotional staff wearing non-branded clothing, are the centerpiece of a digital and social media campaign launching today across multiple channels, including YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
It is part of a multi-pronged approach to get Miller Lite back to growth amid a down overall market for American light lagers. Sales dollars for Miller Lite are down 0.9 percent on a 1.6 percent slip in case volume year-to-date through Oct. 21, according to Nielsen all-outlet data. Fellow MillerCoors product Coors Light is down 2.8 percent in sales dollars on a 3.6 percent decline in case volume.
Both, however, have gained market share in the premium light segment, largely because Bud Light’s decline has been more severe. It is down 4.8 percent in sales dollars on a 5.7 percent case volume decline year-to-date, per Nielsen.
Miller Lite plans to continue its “Know Your Beer” challenges across the country through the end of November.
In a note to distributors, MillerCoors Chief Marketing Officer David Kroll says the results “highlight what we’ve known all along: when it comes to more taste, Miller Lite wins.”