Michelob Packaging for Anheuser-Busch
Email this case study to a friend
Introducing an innovation process through packaging design
Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob brand has been positioned as a premium beer since 1896. Originally available on draught in exclusive restaurants and hotels, Michelob introduced its iconic teardrop-shaped bottle in 1961 for easy recognition in smokey lounges and bars. In 1967, the bottle was redesigned for production efficiency, and years later, took on an even more standardized form. In 2002, eager to defend its brand against the explosion of craft beers in the US, Anheuser-Busch asked IDEO to create a new bottle and secondary packaging to reinvigorate the brand.
IDEO discovered through observations with Michelob and non-Michelob drinkers that the target audience - sophisticated 28 to 54 year-olds - had a positive view of the brand. This shifted the objective away from changing the brand to building on its existing equity. IDEO also examined the beverage products landscape and drew inspiration from the advances made in new packaging and labeling technologies. The team explored new bottle forms and a visual approach for secondary packs that could support the brand story and convey the experience of the product - all at similar production costs and speed as existing bottles.
The resulting bottle features a wasp waist that subtly references the “tear-drop” shape Michelob was famous for in the 1960s. IDEO also accentuated the tactility of the bottle, focusing on making it delightful to hold while pouring and drinking. An embossed word-mark at the bottle waist provides grip and serves as a reminder of the brand. A v-shaped neck label evokes connotations of a celebratory drink around which a napkin might be wrapped. After technical finalization for production, and preparation of final label designs by Anheuser-Busch, the new bottle design was launched in March 2007.
In addition to the packaging design, the project introduced Anheuser-Busch to a new human-centered approach to innovation, helping them gain independence from bottle and pack suppliers. It has also spurred a reevaluation of production processes to introduce techniques allowing greater flexibility for new designs at lower investment costs. Michelob Brand Manager, Eduardo Pereda, noted after the completion of the project, “IDEO’s work was instrumental in pushing the boundaries, and getting a different thought process.”
Project date: 2007