Anheuser-Busch’s 180 on 180

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Anheuser-Busch has done a 180 on 180.

The brewer’s non-alcoholic distribution arm, 9th Street Beverages, will roll out a reformulated and repackaged version of its 180 energy drink this month, and the new product veers away from the original.

The brand traded extreme sports-style graphics for a clean package and logo that would look at home in a natural food store – which matches the drink’s new formulation.

180’s nutrition panel now includes fiber in addition to the B- and C- vitamins included in the original, and 9th Street Director Tom Burkemper boasts that the product uses natural colors, natural fruit flavors and natural caffeine from Guarana.

Despite the parent company’s clear expertise in alcohol channels, Burkemper said 180 will not be positioned with liquors or promoted as a mixer. Instead, it will be sold primarily in grocery, convenience and drug stores, positioned as an “active lifestyle” drink that Burkemper hopes adults will enjoy “chilled, straight from the can.”

In this way, the new 180 will be consistent with its most recent iteration (which had already undergone a packaging redesign). Marketing materials for the last version pegged 180 as for the consumer “gearing up for a five mile run or hitting the surf,” and offered non-alcoholic smoothie recipes centered on the drink. Under the old formulation, though 9th Street did not make the “all-natural” claims touted under the new formulation.

The three flavor line will also keep the same flavor selection (citrus, acai and goji) but will use 12 oz. slim-cans as its primary packaging. Burkemper said 180 will also be available in 16 oz. cans and 12-packs of 12 oz. cans, but research showed that 180s target consumers prefer 12 oz. servings. Additionally, Burkemper said, the 12 oz. slim will help differentiate 180 from other energy brands, which favor 8 or 16 oz. packages.

The revamp will put 180 into the natural energy subcategory, a somewhat less crowded corner of the densely populated (arguably, over-populated) energy drink segment. Other occupants of the space include Steaz, GURU and Sambazon’s Amazon energy – all strong competitors. 180, however, will have one of the country’s most powerful distribution systems behind it. 9th Street also distributes Icelandic Glacial bottle water, Borba Skin Balance Water and Monster Energy.