Crowdsourcing a New Beer Beverage with Budweiser

Published Nov-18-14

Breakthrough:
A popular lager brand works with the crowd to launch a new beverage.

Company:
Anheuser-Busch InBev, United States

The Story:

Crowdsourcing a New Beer Beverage with Budweiser Using crowdsourcing to find new flavors is a popular approach among food and beverage companies. In recent years, we've seen new potato chip, ice cream and pizza flavors and that's just for starters.

In addition to coming up with something original, the co-creation approach reduces the distance between company and consumer, generates brand loyalty, leads to significant cost savings and mitigates risks associated with product development. If consumers are stakeholders, there can be less of a chance of a new product falling at the first hurdle.

New Beer Recipes

In 2012, Budweiser, owned by Anheuser-Busch enlisted the crowd to help it decide on a new beer flavor. Brewmasters from the company’s 12 US breweries engaged in a friendly competition between each other to create something new for customers to enjoy.

All of the beer recipes featured the yeast strain that was first used in the late 19th century by Adolphus Busch, the German-born co-founder of the brewing company. This resulted in 12 new creations which were narrowed down to six that were then brewed in small batches.

During the summer of 2012 these were taken round the USA for sampling. Budweiser's Project 12 Beer asked consumers to vote on their favorite concoction at numerous in-person local events such as music festivals. And it wasn’t just the alcoholic beverages that went on tour, the brewmasters came too. This gave them the opportunity to receive direct feedback from consumers.

Crowd Consultation

More than 25,000 consumers gave their opinions and the drink that garnered the most favorable attention was a golden amber lager called Black Crown. “It didn't matter where in the United States we asked, this is the beer that consistently drew the best feedback, and overwhelmingly so,” commented Rob McCarthy, vice president of Budweiser. The beverage went on sale for the first time in January 2013.

Additional Beers Created

Such was the success of the crowdsourcing project that Budweiser launched Project 12 again the following year. Twelve new brews were created and from these, six were chosen for public taste testing and feedback at numerous events nationwide.

The three top recipes as voted for by the crowd were then shipped out in special limited edition sampler packs to store shelves. Each beer was named after the zip code from where it was originally brewed. So there was Batch 94534 (Fairfield, California), Batch 23185 (Williamsburg, Virginia) and Batch 43229 (Columbus, Ohio).

Inbuilt Audience

The beers launched with typical marketing initiatives such as TV ads, and in the case of Black Crown, a 30-second Super Bowl commercial. While such promotional activities may be deemed necessary, co-creation and crowdsourcing flavor projects have one other advantage that companies can profit from. That is that consultations, whether online or in the real world help to create an audience that is eager for the product to come out. And they will spread the word by becoming brand ambassadors.

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