Budweiser drops out of top 3 beer brands as market evolves

Budweiser is an iconic American brand and was the industry’s best seller until early in the 21st century.

In 2001, Bud Light knocked its full-bodied brother from the top spot. It remained in that position for a decade, until Coors Light squeezed it down a notch to number three.

As CNN reported, Miller Light has now overtaken Budweiser to knock the former leader out of the top three beer brands.

Budweiser’s loss in market share was not due to any major gains by the Miller Light brand. In fact, each of the top four beers saw shrinking sales in 2017.

After years of expansion among craft breweries, larger brands saw some of the biggest drops since Beer Marketer’s Insights began tracking statistics four decades ago.

Bud Light shipped roughly 2 million fewer barrels last year than in 2016, which was the biggest yearly drop by any brand on record.

Beer sales in general saw a small dip in sales over the past year, but industry experts like Beverage Digest editor Duane Stanford say fragmentation of the market has been a central contributing factor.

The 10 best-selling brands have lost considerable cumulative market share over the past 10 years. While they used to represent about two-thirds of all beer sales, the brands now account for around half.

Even craft and other smaller brands are seeing similar dips in sales.

“You can only take so much choice,” Stanford said of the market. “There is a limit at some point.”

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