Talk is Cheap – Fandom, brand preference at heart of Busch Light sales surge, not ‘value’ – Good Beer Hunting
Nicholas Meyer, a 23-year-old grocery store worker who lives in Valdosta, Georgia, is emblematic of the new wave of Busch Light superfans. Fellow Marines introduced him to the brand when he was serving in 2020, and Meyer fell in love with the Busch Light Apple flavor, which debuted the same year.
Last year, Busch Light sold $30.9 million worth of its summer Apple flavor in chain stores, slightly more than the total annual sales of Oskar Blues in those same stores. This year, sales of Busch Light Apple are comparable to those of Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, one of the best-selling craft brands in the country. But that momentum will soon end: despite having been a seasonal powerhouse for three years, Busch Light Apple is in its final year, with current stock hitting shelves in June representing the last cans available. A spokesperson for ABI declined to comment on why it is discontinuing such a popular product, saying only that “Busch Light Apple is coming out on a high with the widest distribution yet.”
At his local liquor store, Meyer typically picks up a weekly Busch Light Apple 24-pack for $22.99, but it’s not just the price that drives him. He also regularly buys more expensive brands of beer and the occasional bottle of Scotch or red wine.
“If I’m not in the mood for Busch – because too much of a good thing is bad – I move on to Michelob [Ultra] or Corona,” says Meyer. A recent price check for the Target store in Valdosta, GA shows that Busch Light’s 18-pack ($13.99) was cheaper than even Corona’s or Michelob Ultra’s 12-pack (both $15. $99). Meyer’s behavior goes against the conventional wisdom that budget-conscious shoppers drive Busch Light’s growth: Meyer sometimes spends more on more expensive liquor brands, but comes back to Busch Light.
He says he does it because he loves Apple flavor and the brand’s marketing, especially its limited-edition cans, which he collects and displays on a shelf in his bedroom. He currently has a collection of hunting and fishing themed Busch Light cans and a John Deere can that a friend of his who lives in the Midwest sent him.
“I was very lucky to find that one,” Meyer says. “I haven’t opened it either. I just kept it sealed.
These limited-edition cans also moved the sales needle nationwide. The “For The Farmers” collaborationnot with agricultural machinery company John Deere coincided with Busch Light gaining +0.3 market share in Q1 2022 and +0.45 market share in May. (ABI donated $1 for every pack of 24 or 30 sold to a farm and ranch aid organization farm rescue— up to $100,000 — and John Deere matched that donation.)
The John Deere partnership is an example of Busch Light speaking to its fan base, which is concentrated in rural Midwestern and Southern states, according to ABI. The company lists Busch Light as the top-selling beer in Wisconsin and adds that Tennessee is the brand’s top state for volume growth.