“We really want to disrupt this space because we believe there doesn’t need to be a stigma and outdated understanding of non-alcoholic beer,” Monica Rustgi, Budweiser’s VP of marketing told CNN Business. “Beer is something that people love, so it doesn’t have to be binary decision of drinking beer with alcohol or not drinking a beer at all.”
“You don’t always want to walk away being hungover or with a buzz,” Wade said. “I loved the idea of being part of the conversation without having to drink alcohol.” The basketball player added that he’s often the designated driver for his family and friends.
The beer had a soft launch in March and it’s debuting a national ad campaign featuring Wade beginning Wednesday. So far, the initial reaction from drinkers has “pleased” the company, according to Rustgi.
Bud Zero, which is priced similarly to Budweiser, will first be sold in a 12-pack of 12-ounce cans and 16-ounce single cans. A 6-pack of 12-ounce bottles will roll out in November.
Beer is booming
Retail beer sales have jumped 20% since mid-March, when Covid-19 began spreading in the United States, according to Nielsen. Non-alcoholic beer sales jumped 35% in the same time period, the firm said.
The pandemic has made people crave familiar products and possibly shy away from trying something new, Caleb Bryant, a food and drink analyst for market research firm Mintel, told CNN Business.
“The Bud name carries so much weight to it, and this product is going to benefit from instant consumer recognition,” Bryant said, adding that the Bud name is “certainly going to spur trial among some consumers” who otherwise might not have tried it.
Bud Zero is an integral part of Anheuser-Bush’s portfolio strategy, which is flooding consumers with different options — a technique it has pursued by creating multiple spiked seltzer companies, including Bud Light Seltzer, Bon & Viv and Natural Light Seltzer.
The parent company “has so many different brands and the fact that their selection of non-alcoholic beer options is growing is just playing toward that trend,” Bryant said.