A-B Tests 'Select 55' in Select Markets

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A-B Tests 'Select 55' in Select Markets

By Kenneth Hein - 08/11/2009
Anheuser-Busch opted not to conduct a heavy rollout for the "the lightest beer in the world." Its new beer brand, Select 55, has instead debuted in 15 test markets across the country. The "smooth, golden lager" targets active consumers looking for new lower-calorie options, per the company.

The move comes on the heels of competitor Miller Genuine Draft’s successful launch of MGD 64. The brand, which replaced MGD Light in the middle of last year, claims to be "as light as it gets."

"Clearly MGD 64 has been a successful new intro," said Benj Steinman, editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights. "The question is how much came out of Miller Lite’s hide. [Still], The Genuine Draft franchise is in the plus side for the first time in about a decade."

Miller sold 425,000 barrels of MGD 64 and MGD Light last year, up from 280,000 barrels the year prior, per Beer Marketer’s Insights.

While this is small compared to the 16 million-plus barrels Miller Lite moves, "it’ still a shot in the arm," said Steinman. "The question is how sustainable is it?"

Because of these unknowns, A-B is "dipping their toe in the water to see what’s there," Steinman explained. "The industry is soft right now so they are trying a lot of initiatives to counteract that."

Select 55 can be found in Arizona, Chicago, Dallas and 12 other markets. It is available in 12-ounce, 6- and 12-pack bottles , and 12-ounce, 12- and 18-pack cans. Pricing will mirror that of Budweiser Select.

Ads trumpeting it as "the lightest beer in the world" were created by Cannonball. Anheuser-Busch spent $475 million on media last year and $196 million for the first five months of the year, per The Nielsen Co. Its most recent new products, Michelob Porter Beer and Michelob Pale Ale, each received $8 million in ad support.

Nielsen Business Media