Although Budweiser is currently part of Anheuser-Busch InBev and is technically a Belgium company, it has retained its brand image as the "All-American Beer" with its red, white and blue can, sponsorship of All-American sports like NASCAR, and an American heritage that began in 1876 out of St. Louis, Missouri.
However, time passes and the world changes. Budweiser is now available in markets around the world, and the company plans to increase the brand's global presence (although not using the Budweiser brand name in the Czech Republic where Budvar owns the trademark). In an effort to create a stronger, consistent brand image, Anheuser-Busch launched a rebranding initiative, and new Budweiser packaging was released this month. You can see the new packaging in the image above.
According to the Anheuser-Busch press release, the Budweiser rebranding now focuses on the brand's iconic bowtie symbol, which has appeared on Budweiser bottle caps, neon bar signs, and merchandise for years. Gone are the red, white and blue colors and the nostalgic label seal that's been the focal point of the can and bottle packaging in one form or another since 1936. You can see the evolution of Budweiser can packaging in the image below.
The new package design does lend itself well to promotional designs, similar to what Coca-Cola does throughout the year. In July, U.S. consumers got their first view of the Budweiser rebranding with a special Independence Day can shown to the right, and while the bowtie design isn't instantly recognizable to many consumers, I suspect it will become just as recognizable as other well-known brand symbols like the Nike logo icon, if it's used consistently and persistently in years to come.
However, the new bowtie icon and red, white, and gold packaging has just debuted. How will consumers respond to it? Will we have another Tropicana rebranding disaster? Or will Budweiser consumers be more willing to adapt to changes to their preferred brand's packaging?
The team at AYTM wanted to learn what real consumers think about the Budweiser rebranding, so we conducted a survey to find out. Some of the most interesting things we learned from the survey results follow. See if you agree.
The Budweiser Bowtie Recognition Statistics
As expected, approximately 2 out of 3 respondents (including Budweiser drinkers and non-drinkers) did not recognize the Budweiser bowtie on its own -- without the Budweiser name or any other visual aids offered to aid recognition. This percentage decreases a bit among loyal Budweiser customers who drink Budweiser at least once per week. 1 out of 2 Budweiser loyalists recognize the bowtie image unaided.
Reaction to Budweiser Rebranding
Respondents were asked if they liked the new Budweiser package design, disliked it, or felt indifferent to it in comparison to the old design. The majority of Budweiser drinkers and non-drinkers felt indifferent to the change regardless of age or gender. However, when asked if the new design makes the Budweiser brand seem cheaper or more high-end, the opinions began to vary by audience segment. Budweiser loyalists were more likely to think the new design makes the brand seem classier, particularly male Budweiser loyalists. On the flip side, female Budweiser loyalists were more likely to dislike that the blue color was eliminated from the packaging than their male counterparts were.
Based on the results of this small survey, it looks like Budweiser's rebranding should be successful. There isn't a widespread outcry that the new packaging is horrible. In fact, most Budweiser loyalists who responded to the AYTM survey felt somewhat indifferent to the change, which we can assume means that the new packaging won't affect their purchase preferences. If Budweiser can get its most loyal customers to accept the rebranding, then they're on the right track!
I do think it's interesting that in rebranding, Budweiser has made its packaging look a bit more like some low-end competitors such as Old Milwaukee, Schlitz, and Schaefer. Check out the side-by-side comparison below.
I was actually surprised that our survey results showed that the majority of Budweiser brand loyalists didn't feel like the new packaging made the brand seem cheaper. Perhaps that's because loyal customers don't look at other brands on store shelves. The larger respondent audience of drinkers and non-drinkers did feel like the rebranding made Budweiser seem cheaper (if they felt the new and old design made a difference at all). If Budweiser is looking to gain new customers through the redesign, that's a perception issue which could affect the brand strategy.
How do you feel about the Budweiser rebranding? Do you love or hate the new package design?
Images: Budweiser, Schlitz, Old Milwaukee, Schaefer