Combined revenue of its three global brands, Budweiser, Stella Artois, and Corona, rose by 8.9% for the quarter. Budweiser revenues grew by 5.7%, with 11.7% growth in revenues outside of the US.
Latin America South saw the strongest gains in revenue up 35.4% for the quarter as a result of pricing in line with inflation and growth of premium beer brands. Volumes in Argentina, the largest market in the region, were up 20% fueled by sales of Stella Artois.
In the US, Stella Artois and Michelob Ultra were share gainers for the quarter, but the company’s premium lagers, Bud Light and Budweiser, remain under pressure declining mid-single digits in revenue.
“While we're not satisfied with our market share performance in the US … we have delivered strong top line results in almost every other market and are pleased to see the company's growth accelerating,” AB InBev CEO, Carlos Alves de Brito, said during an earnings call.
Budweiser and Bud Light struggle
Many US consumers are trading up in their beer consumption habits resulting in steady performance in Anheuser-Busch’s ‘Above Premium’ portfolio. The company’s flagship brands, Budweiser and Bud Light, continue to decline in market share losing four and nine basis points respectively in Q217.
The world’s largest brewer has responded with increased marketing efforts in the US with its Budweiser “America” campaign and Bud Light’s new “Friendship” platform. For Bud Light, the company has developed local programming targeting key Hispanic markets.
“While this was a challenging quarter for the US, we saw continued growth from the ‘Above Premium’ segment,” Brito said.
Above premium beer brand Michelob Ultra registered its ninth straight quarter of share gains in the US and Stella Artois became the fastest-growing European imported beer, according to IRI.
Chinese consumers premiumize
The Budweiser brand has performed well in China gaining double-digit volume sales helped by strong commercial execution during the Chinese New Year.
AB InBev is also expanding Budweiser to other regions in China and through different channels as Chinese consumers evolve and nightlife becomes more segmented into premium and super premium, Brito said.
“Budweiser is now establishing itself with a more balanced channel mix underpinned by strong growth in Chinese restaurants and in-home occasions,” the company said.
Super premium global brands including Corona, Stella Artois, and Hoegaarden, showed triple-digit sales growth driven by female consumers who have resonated with the brands’ focus on heritage, uniqueness, and serving rituals, according to the company.
Innovations have also assisted the growth, with Harbin Baipi, a recently launched wheat beer, demonstrating wide appeal with rapid sales growth.
“In China, we're the leaders in everything that's premium and super premium,” Brito said.