NAWILIWILI — What do New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, London, Hong Kong and Kauai have in common?
OK, all are visitor destinations among the world’s best, but all are also test markets for the world’s newest beer, Anheuser World Select.
Frequent Kauai visitor August A. Busch, IV, in charge of one of the world’s largest beer companies, challenged Anheuser-Busch’s top brewmasters, from 10 countries around the world, to collaborate on a new beer that could compete in America with European imports and other high-end brews for beer drinkers ages 21 to 34.
The result is Anheuser World Select, brewed in America.
What makes the new brew more newsworthy is that, possibly for the first time ever, Kauai and Hawaii were chosen as test markets, to determine if and when the new suds will be rolled out nationally and internationally.
If the early Kauai results are any indication, the beer will roll and flow internationally.
Already, Anheuser-Busch Sales of Hawaii, Inc. customers on this island are ordering and re-ordering the product, not only in its 12-ounce bottle form but in kegs for serving up draft at local bars and restaurants, said Steve Ruiz, manager of the Kauai branch of the distributor.
“The response so far has been good on the product,” he said.
Normally, when a new product is introduced, a handful of major cities are chosen as test markets. If sales and consumer and retail response and feedback are strong, the product is rolled out nationally, he explained.
“As long as I can remember, this is our first product that we test-marketed here in Hawaii,” he said. “So, it’s kind of exciting for us.
“Usually, we get everything, we’re last on the list, yeah, being so far away from the Mainland. But because of the strong imports sales here, they figured test-marketing Anheuser in this market would be a good idea,” said Ruiz.
With a mixed culture with mixed backgrounds and mixed preferences in beers, the Hawaii and Kauai markets made sense for testing a new, international beer using German malt and an international team of brewmasters, he said.
“August Busch comes to Hawaii every year, so he knows the Hawaii market pretty well. He’s very familiar with the market and the culture here,” and made the decision to include Hawaii in the test markets.
The tests began here in early June, and if a decision to go nationwide is made, it will probably be made sometime next year, Ruiz said. Kauai and Hawaii will remain test markets until a decision is made to either roll out nationwide distribution, or drop the product all together.
Sales, distribution, and consumer feedback are data test markets provide in advance of a “go” or “no-go” decision, he continued.
“But I guess our most effective way is when we get out into the market and start talking one on one with consumers and just getting their feedback that way,” Ruiz said.
“Just seeing what they’ve got to say, and how they like it,” is a telling trait.
“I really like it,” Ruiz said of Anheuser World Select. “It’s got that European, imported-style taste to it, but it’s smooth. It has a smooth, clean aftertaste.”
His impression has been supported by local feedback, he added.
On Kauai, the test got off to a quick, rolling start by being unveiled at the annual Taste of Hawaii fund-raiser for the Kapaa Rotary Club, a day before the official Kauai and Hawaii market tests began, he added.
The beer is available at stores, restaurants and bars across the island. Other products of Anheuser-Busch include Budweiser and Bud Light, Busch and Busch Light, Michelob and Michelob Light, and O’Doul’s.
Business Editor Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:email@example.com or 245-3681 (ext. 224).