Beer giant Natural "Natty" Light (BUD) has introduced flavored vodka. Yes, you read that right.
The brand, owned by Anheuser-Busch and best known for its reduced-calorie beer, launched the new product line in 3 flavors — lemonade, strawberry lemonade, and black cherry.
At 30% ABV (alcohol by volume), Natty Vodka is the first-ever spirt extension from Anheuser-Busch.
“Natural Light is constantly looking to innovate to meet the evolving flavor preferences of our fans. Nothing is off the table,” Daniel Blake, Anheuser-Busch group VP of Budweiser & value, said in a press release.
“Flavored vodka is one of the fastest growing segments in spirits, and we knew Natty was the brand to show up to the party with a great tasting offering to set us apart," Blake continued.
The latest rollout comes as more alcohol brands deviate from their core products to better capture shifting consumer preferences.
According to a new CFRA research report, 2020's COVID-19 spikes caused U.S. alcohol consumption to rise by the fastest rate in 18 years. Volumes grew 2% despite steep drop offs in on-premise sales from restaurants, bars and event venues.
With at-home consumption on the rise, the report noted that U.S. consumer demand is being driven by flavor, convenience, and "better-for-you" options.
Market analytics firm IWSR explained that "flavored subcategories – from beer to vodka to U.S. whiskey – are significantly outperforming traditional non-flavored subcategories."
"Flavor is also the top consumer driver of the fast-growing ready-to-drink category, and that’s likely creating a halo effect on total alcohol as well," IWSR continued.
Domestic beer sales on the decline
U.S. beer consumption has steadily declined over the past decade, which has come at a greater cost to domestic brands.
The North American beer industry, sometimes referred to as a duopoly consisting of Anheuser-Busch and Molson Coors (TAP), collectively possessed 63% market share in 2020. That's a double-digit decline from 73% in 2014, CFRA noted.
The report added that imports, especially craft beer, have steadily captured market share — growing from 20.6% in 2019 to 21.8% in 2020
Imported beer sales have also increased, rising 3.1% in 2020 compared to a 4.4% drop for domestic beer over thAT same time period.
Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193