Carlos Brito said A-B InBev had been unfair to Bud Light

Carlos Brito said A-B InBev had been unfair to Bud Light

The CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev, Carlos Brito, has said the company has been “unfair” to Bud Light, and is to give the brand an overhaul following the variant's US market share loss.

Bud Light remains the biggest selling beer in the US but, in a call with analysts on Friday, Brito suggested declines meant that A-B InBev had lost focus on it. “We believe in brands that are well managed ... and Bud Light is one of those that could be better managed,” he said.

Brito's comments echo those he made in 2012 about Budweiser, when the brand was suffering similar market share declines. Brito said at the time that the company would renew Budweiser's focus on music, a strategy that has seemingly work: in last week's Q3 results, Brito said Budweiser had delivered one of its best volume and market share results in recent years.

For Bud Light, A-B InBev will launch a new marketing campaign that will highlight its two-decade history and will roll out a packaging refresh and new visual identity.

“We are very excited to begin next year," Brito said. “We are going to have what we think is going to be revolutionary in terms of trying to understand where the brand came from and trying to learn from its amazing 20-plus years' history from zero to a market leader in the US and playing that back in a more contemporary way.”

In July, the company appointed Heineken's former ad agency Wieden + Kennedy

Market share figures for Bud Light in the US were not disclosed last week, however Brito said last year's Q3 had seen “only” a 30-basis-point share drop because of the launch of Bud Light in 25cl cans. Sales-to-retailers for the brand were down low-single digits for both Q3 and YTD this year.

For a look at Anheuser-Busch InBev's Q3 and YTD performance on a regional basis, click here

Meanwhile, Brito said sales of A-B InBev's Sedrin brand in China were being cannibalised by its own premium-and-above brands, as Chinese consumers trade up.

“We are cannibalising ourselves with brands that have five times the margins that we have in Sedrin products,” Brito said. “That’s why our mix in China continues to grow and our volume continues to be totally detached from the industry.”

According to Brito, China's overall beer market in the year-to-date declined by 5.4% in volumes while A-B InBev's volumes fell by just 0.5%. He said of the trend towards higher-priced beer: “While it may be bad for the industry, it is not bad for us.”

A-B InBev has launched a takeover bid for rival SABMiller, however Brito did not comment on the deal on Friday, saying the focus was on the quarterly results.