Chris Brook-Carter

The light fantastic?

By: Chris Brook-Carter - 20 August 2003 10:48

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No doubt all of you will be monitoring your frequencies diligently after hearing this news, but I am being interviewed by BBC radio today for a news piece on the launch of a low calorie beer in the UK - specifically Michelob Ultra.

The move comes two years after owners Anheuser-Busch pulled Bud Light from the UK market after disappointing sales. Earlier this year Coors was forced to pull its Light beer from UK shelves also.

Although these kinds of beers have been a huge success in the US, past experience proves the difficulties brewers face in launching a low-calorie beer in the UK. Will Michelob be able to succeed where others have so clearly failed?

It seems unlikely that British drinking culture will have changed in so little time. Having said that, the US brewers clearly believe there is potential there - Coors is planning to relaunch Coors Light. The growth in popularity of the controversial, low-carbohydrate Atkins diet in the UK suggests there is an audience for low-carb beverages out there.

Unfortunately the core UK lager drinker is not often your archetypal calorie counting dieter as well. There will need to be a serious shift in attitude among UK consumers if this is to be a success.
The serious issue aside, it was interesting to see the marketing campaign for Ultra will not be adopting the US's "Drop the Carbs" slogan because research found that British consumers saw "carbs" as "crabs" - an unfortunate word association.
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