If you went to college — or, in some cases, high school — in the United States, then you're probably familiar with Natural Light. Anheuser-Busch's dirt-cheap light beer has long been a top beverage choice for young partiers, thanks both to its low price and decent taste. But Natty Light is looking to shed its youthful image by going back to a look that predates the birth of many of its drinkers.
In a permanent rebrand, Natty Light has done away with the silver, red and blue branding that's burned into the brains of millennials and is returning its beer cans to the classic look that first appeared on its cans in 1979 (the brand itself, which was Anheuser-Busch's first light beer, debuted in 1977). And while many of us love a retro rebrand just for nostalgia's sake, Natural Light has a more shrewd reason for making the change.
With sales flat and younger drinkers flocking to options like lower-calorie beers or alternative alcoholic drinks like RTDs and hard seltzers, Natty Light is aiming to appeal more to middle-aged drinkers looking for a good, cheap beer. And that means adopting a more time-tested and mature look.
"Traditionally, people think of us as college beer — and we’re graduating," Natty Light's Head of Marketing, Krystyn Stowe, told CNN. "What we realized is that it’s not just legal drinking-aged people that are drinking our beer, but all the way up to 30- to 40-year-olds. We’re not pivoting away from college, but now we’re welcoming in a whole new cohort that has always existed, but that we hadn’t paid the attention or time they deserve to."
Before rolling out the redesign nationwide, Natty Light tried out the retro cans in North and South Carolina, and the region saw its biggest sales bump in years, according to CNN. There's also a wider precedent for a retro rebrand doing wonders for a beer brand's sales. In 2014, Miller Lite brought back a version of its old-school white can design that hadn't been seen since the early '90s, replacing the Y2K-ified bright blue look that had defined the brand in the 2000s and early 2010s. The rebrand saw Miller Lite's sales skyrocket, and the beer has kept the throwback white can ever since.
To go along with the new cans, Natty Light is selling retro-themed merch that's sure to be a hot ticket, and they've also launched a new take on their "Act Natural" ad campaign with Saturday Night Live alum Beck Bennett.
Look for the new (old?) Natty Light on the shelf at your local beer grocer, or score some from Drizly.