Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.: Rolling Out New Products

Aug. 9, 2006
Anheuser-Busch tries to make beer king again with the purchase of Rolling Rock and innovative marketing campaigns.

This spring Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. went for the green. The company, which is the largest U.S. brewer, purchased Rolling Rock beer in May for $82 million from InBev USA. Rolling Rock is famous for its green bottles with painted white labeling.

With the acquisition of Rolling Rock, St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch -- one of IndustryWeek's IW 50 Best Manufacturers for 2006 -- looks to add a new consumer base to its increasingly diverse portfolio of beers.

"We have an ideal opportunity to grow this historic brand," said August Busch IV, president of the Anheuser-Busch Inc. business unit, in a May 19 statement. "This beer is not like others, and its consumer following is equally distinctive. We live in a diverse world where consumers are hungry for variety. Acquiring Rolling Rock enables us to reach a new audience and to continue building our broad portfolio of products that meet the wide-ranging needs of consumers."

The sale ended 67 years of brewing Rolling Rock beer in Latrobe, Pa., where the Latrobe Brewing Co. opened and operated the brewery until InBev took over in 1987. InBev plans to sell the Latrobe brewery to focus its U.S. market on imported beers, according to Anheuser-Busch.

The Rolling Rock acquisition is one of several moves made by Anheuser-Busch to attract new customers as beer sales industrywide have been declining. In another effort to woo customers, the company has expanded its sleek aluminum bottle design to its Michelob Ultra and Michelob Ultra Amber brands in June. The bottles are designed to attract club-goers and patrons of upscale bars. The company says it already has been successful selling Michelob, Michelob Light, Anheuser World Lager, Budweiser, Budweiser Select and Bud Light beers in the aluminum bottles. First-quarter sales for aluminum-packaged beers increased 602% over the same period in 2005, according to the company.

Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.
At A Glance
Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.St. Louis, Mo.Primary Industry: BeveragesNumber of employees: 31,4852005 In ReviewRevenue: $15 billionProfit Margin: 12.23%Sales Turnover: 0.91Inventory Turnover: 14.25Revenue Growth: 0.68%Return On Assets: 11.37%Return On Equity: 68.93%

"We're always looking for innovative ways to reach adult beer drinkers, whether through creative packaging or new products such as Michelob Ultra Amber, which has experienced strong results since its introduction in February," said Eduardo Peredo, director, Michelob family, in a June 14 statement. "It's important to keep beer fun, relevant and in step with the changing preferences of adults who enjoy beer, and aluminum bottles are a great way for us to further enhance the beer-drinking experience for many of our great brands."

Overall, first-quarter sales were up slightly over the same period last year. Net sales rose 5.9% to $4.3 billion while profits increased 7.4% to $638 million. Favorable domestic beer pricing and solid performances by the company's international beer segment and entertainment business unit have contributed to the positive first-quarter results, said Patrick Stokes, president and CEO of Anheuser-Busch Cos.

In other recent news, the company has earned accolades for its popular advertisements. Anheuser-Busch received an Emmy nomination in July for its Super Bowl advertisement "Clydesdale American Dream." The ad depicted a young Clydesdale that dreamed of eventually pulling the Budweiser hitch. The nomination was the third for Anheuser-Busch in as many years. In June, the company won a Grand Prix of Radio award at the 53rd annual International Advertising Festival in Cannes, France, for its tongue-in-cheek "Real Men of Genius" radio advertising campaign.

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About the Author

Jonathan Katz | Former Managing Editor

Former Managing Editor Jon Katz covered leadership and strategy, tackling subjects such as lean manufacturing leadership, strategy development and deployment, corporate culture, corporate social responsibility, and growth strategies. As well, he provided news and analysis of successful companies in the chemical and energy industries, including oil and gas, renewable and alternative.

Jon worked as an intern for IndustryWeek before serving as a reporter for The Morning Journal and then as an associate editor for Penton Media’s Supply Chain Technology News.

Jon received his bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Kent State University and is a die-hard Cleveland sports fan.

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