Busch Light is one of America’s fastest-growing beers, winning new fans to its corner every passing year. As a beer product from Anheuser-Busch, expectations were pretty high right from its launch. While its successes are widely known, few know of its beginnings, often asking when the beer was launched and why. Here’s a quick answer to that.
Busch Light was introduced to the American market in 1989. It was initially called Busch Light Draft before dropping “Draft” from its name in 1994, becoming Busch Light. This beer was manufactured to take advantage of North America’s growing interest in light beers.
That is essentially the answer to when Busch Light came out and why. However, there’s more detail. Here, we will thoroughly consider why the beer came out, where it was first brewed and marketed, and how much the beer was in its early years.
Why Did Busch Light Come Out?
Busch Light was not Anheuser-Busch InBev’s first venture into the light beer industry – that’s proudly Bud Light – but it was the first of the Busch brand. The beer made its debut in 1989, seven years after Bud light debuted.
At the time of Busch Light’s release, Busch was already one of the top beers in the country, and Bud Light was on its way to dominating the light beer industry. This then begs the question of why the Busch brand still came up with Busch Light. Let’s answer that.
Changing Beer Trends And Preferences
The primary reason for launching any light beer in the 1970s and 80s was to exploit changing beer trends and preferences. After the debut of Miller Lite in 1975, it was clear to many experts that light beers were the next significant movement in the beer industry. This is because people were gravitating toward consuming lower carbohydrates.
Unlike regular beer, light beer is low in carbohydrates and calories, meaning it was a good alternative for people who wanted a low-carb diet but didn’t want to give up beer. Also, beer was growing increasingly common among younger people, with many of them favoring less bitterness.
It was against all of these that Anheuser-Busch InBev, with its Budweiser brand, entered the light beer industry in 1982 with Bud Light. Shortly after, the Busch brand followed suit with Busch Light.
Meet Fans Demands
In 1989, when Busch light launched, its regular counterpart was one of the top beers in the country. Busch had been around since 1955 and had generated a considerable following. During the light beer craze that started in the mid to late 1970s, many Busch fans were clamoring for a light beer from Busch.
The push for Busch Light by fans made sense, too, considering other popular beer brands, like Miller, Coors, and Michelob, were starting to offer a light version of their regular beer. Because each beer brand has its characteristic taste, fans of the Busch brand that wanted to move to light beers would have been more comfortable with Busch Light than other light beers.
Unsurprisingly, the Busch brand had been plotting its light beer version for years before consumers started pushing for it. The high fan demand was just the much-needed assurance that their product would not flop.
Compete With Popular Light Beers
The first successful light beer in the American market was Miller Lite in 1975. Miller’s groundbreaking success with their light beer prompted many beer manufacturers to enter the market. Anheuser-Busch InBev was no exception, releasing the light beer versions of Budweiser and Michelob. The light beers of these two brands, particularly Bud Light, vastly exceeded expectations after their launch.
However, despite the success of Bud Light and Michelob Light, Miller Lite remained the biggest beer brand in the United States for years, holding the largest chunk of shares in the light beer market.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, in a bid to reduce the market share of Miller Lite, moved to launch Busch Light. In its early days, there were concerns that Busch Light would only steal market share from the other two Anheuser-Busch InBev light beers. The company was not worried, though, maintaining that Miller Lite was vulnerable to Busch Light because it was no longer growing.
Where Was Busch Light First Brewed?
Busch Light is a product of Anheuser-Busch InBev, which has its headquarters in Saint Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis Brewery in Missouri was opened in the 1850s and is the flagship of the twelve breweries Anheuser-Busch InBev has across the country.
As Missouri is home to Anheuser-Busch InBev, many of its beers first test the waters in the state before spreading to the rest of the country. Unsurprisingly, Busch Light followed suit. Aside from Missouri, Illinois was the only other state where the beer was first introduced during its test days.
How Much Was Busch Light When It First Came Out?
Busch Light was old at $3.49 for a six-pack when it first came out. This was the same price Busch was sold at then. This was a bit cheap back then, at least compared to the other big light beers. More than three decades have passed, and Busch Light is still on the cheap side relative to the country’s other mega light beer brands.
While many may construe the relatively low price as a lack of quality, that is not the case. Over the years, the Busch brand has directed much of its marketing attention to younger people, especially in colleges. It makes perfect sense for the beer to be affordable for its target audience.
In 2017, Busch Light held 2.9% of the beer market share in the United States, increasing to 3.1% three years later.
Where Was Busch Light First Marketed?
Busch Light is an Anheuser-Busch InBev beer product, so the first state that comes to mind is Missouri, where the company has its flagship brewery. If that’s what you thought, you’d be right.
Missouri and Illinois were the first states Anheuser-Busch InBev introduced and marketed Busch Light. The reasoning behind this was the original Busch was the top-selling beer brand in the two states. The next state Anheuser-Busch InBev explored for Busch Light was Texas, where close to half of the beers sold at the time were light beers. Today, Busch Light is most common in the Midwestern region of the United States, particularly in Iowa.
The reason for Busch Light’s initial marketing in Missouri and Illinois was to capitalize on the success of Busch in those states. At launch, brand marketers were unsure if they would expand to the beer markets of all states in the United States where Busch was sold, 41 then.
Notwithstanding, they intended to introduce Busch Light into markets where they didn’t have much presence to grab some market share from competitors.