Light Beers: Are They the Same?

Beer is an interesting topic, especially for a college student. Obviously there is product differentiation, but when talking specifically about light beers: is there any difference?

In class we talked about this somewhat and we determined that people choose worse than random when blind tasting light beers. The only difference is supposedly the can. Intrigued by this information I decided to set up my own experiment.

To do the experiment you need the following:

1. A couple cans of Natural Light

2. A couple cans of Busch Light

3. Five solo cups

4. A marker

5. A person 21 years or above

The experiment ran as follows:

1. Mark cups with B (Busch) or N (Natty) on the bottom.

2. Choose and fill numbers of cups how you like (Ex. 3 N and 2 B, 4 N and 1B, or even 5B).

3. Have the drinker take sips of each and organize them into two piles, what he or she thinks is B or N.

4. See results.

My experiment went very differently than I had expected. The beer tester scored perfectly picking the 3 N’s and 2’Bs without knowing how many of each was even in the test sample. This could have been luck but the chances of that are very slim. So what does this say about the light beer industry? There is product differentiation. Maybe it is true that there isn’t as much difference between Busch Light and Natty Light as there is between Stella and PBR but there is still definitely a slight change in the taste.

One thought on “Light Beers: Are They the Same?

  1. While this may show that some people can tell the difference between light beers I do not think that this type of product differentiation changes industry practices at all. It makes sense that there are slight differences in taste yet the beers are still substitutes for each other. Just like Coke and Pepsi, there may be strong customer loyalty to both products. However, restaurants usually only carry one because, for the most part customers are okay with swapping one for the other. This is not accounting for Coke fanatics who refuse to drink Pepsi – there are some but not enough to change the processes of an industry. Overall, preferences for a Natural Light and a Busch light, while they may be slightly distinguishable, remain equal for most people.

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