Michelob is currently the fastest-growing beer in the US in both value and volume terms, success that ABI hopes to repeat in the UK.
However, the brand, much like Bud Light, was already available in the UK at one point in the past.
AB InBev placed the low-calorie and low-carbohydrate beer on the market in 2003, backed by a significant marketing campaign.
The brand has been relaunched in the UK as the 'better for you' alcohol market has matured. When it was first available in the UK, it had 88 calories and 2.5g of carbohydrates. The calorie content has now been lowered.
Seeking lower-strength beers
Research suggests Brits are seeking lower-strength beers – those with an ABV of between 0.5% and 3.5% – and bought 61m pints of low-alcohol beer in the past 12 months, up 34% for the same period last year, the brewer said.
“The UK launch responds directly to the trend for leading an active lifestyle and demand for reduced-calorie and lower-alcohol options,” said ABI.
Michelob Ultra is brewed to 3.5% ABV, has 79 calories per 335ml can and will be rolled out nationwide across the UK off-trade this October, with a bottle format due to appear in the on-trade from spring 2019.
A national multimedia advertising campaign, running across print, digital and out-of-home media, will support the launch and focus on the beer’s light qualities as well as its “functional benefits”.
Following its Bud Light relaunch last year, ABI will pump resources into sampling activity as well as brand partnerships, all of which will be unveiled shortly.
'At odds with an active life'
Michelob Ultra senior brand manager Matt Leadbeater said: “Drinking beer can sometimes seem at odds with living an active life, but it doesn’t have to be.
“The launch of Michelob Ultra signals an exciting new option for retailers looking to cater to increasing consumer demand for products that complement a balanced lifestyle.”
He continued: “Michelob Ultra has been a runaway success in the US and other new markets globally and we’re confident we can replicate that in the UK as more people look to brands that suit their balance of an active and social life.”
The introduction of the beer into the UK market forms part of the brewer’s wider “global smart drinking goals” that include no- or low-alcohol products making up at least 20% of its global beer volumes by the end of 2025.
The Morning Advertiser recently investigated the 'health' credentials of the low and no-alcohol beer and cider market. The report discovered that some lower alcohol beers and ciders can contain more carbohydrates than their full-alcohol counterparts.