Budweiser is introducing a buzz-free version in Canada. The new non-alcoholic beer is called Budweiser Prohibition Brew. It could enter other countries, including the U.S. “Budweiser Prohibition Brew is only available in Canada for now, but we’re excited by the prospect that it could eventually be offered in the U.S., the birthplace of Budweiser, sometime in the future,” said Ricardo Marques, VP for Bud in the U.S.
The beer “leverages the latest de-alcoholization technology to create a beer that has 0.0% alcohol by volume and yet delivers the great taste of Budweiser,” according to Budweiser Canada. It is “an ideal choice for a work lunch or casual afternoon with friends, as well as designated drivers and people with active lifestyles,” said Kyle Norrington, vice president, marketing for Labatt, which is the Canadian division of Anheuser-Busch InBev. In the U.S., A-B InBev currently markets the non-alcoholic O’Doul’s brand.
It certainly seems like ABI is beginning to take some radical marketing steps recently. First, there was renaming Budweiser as “America” and now using the Budweiser brand for a non-alcoholic beer, both of which seem like steps the old management would never have taken, because of concerns of harming the core brand perception. But ABI, of course, has no loyalty to the brand, or indeed anything, as long as profit can be squeezed out of it. Their approach seems more like a scorched earth way of thinking.
And we still haven’t seen what they’re planning to do, if anything, with all of the area codes that they tried to trademark. And you know there’s an end game with all of the acquisitions of smaller breweries they’ve been buying up. If history is any judge, the last time there were over 4,000 breweries, consolidation was rampant in the next few decades, and by 1900 — just 25 years after the high point — there were only a little more than 1,800. And by the time Prohibition took effect, there were less than 700, which represents only 17% of the 4,131 in 1873. So there is some precedent to watch out for, consolidation is nothing new. Some is inevitable due to market forces, the fact that not every brewery can compete in their local market for a variety of reasons (quality of their beer, business acumen, etc.), but sometimes its predatory as a way to squash competition. The next decade will certainly be enlightening as everything plays out.