There are 31 million possible label outputs from 31 designs.
Individualized packaging seems to be the latest trend for beverage giants like Diet Coke and Absolut, and now Bud Light is getting in on the action and bringing it to the U.S. The beer behemoth created 200,000 different cans, variations on 31 designs, using vertical-printing technology from HP.
Starting today, the cans will be available to attendees of the Mad Decent Block Party, a music festival that will hit cities across the U.S. and Canada over the next few weeks and run through September.
"The [individualized cans are] very much in line with what Bud Light wants to do for millennials," said Alex Lambrecht, vp of Bud Light. "We know they want something unique and an unexpected experience, and I feel that they will be so surprised and inspired when they order a Bud Light and get these cans."
Bud Light was looking for an opportunity to amplify consumers' experience with the brand and to put that innovation in their hands, according to Gina Bazigian, packaging innovations manager at A-B InBev.
"That's where the packaging came in," said Bazigian. "So, we partnered with HP. Instead of printing these cans through conventional printing, we leveraged their HP Indigo digital-press technology, and what makes that significant is that we also used their HP SmartStream Mosaic algorithm."
The algorithm tweaks each can design based on parameters set by Bud Light. "Each time we've printed a label out they're a little bit different, and that allows us to get 31 million possible label outputs from those 31 designs and ensures that no two cans printed are alike," said Bazigian.
Lambrecht said it's the first time such technology is being used in the U.S. market.
"And this is really tapping into the desire for millennials to have a unique experience," he said. "All 200,000 cans produced will provide 200,000 different experiences."
Bud Light's internal creative team partnered with Virtue Worldwide, VICE's in-house creative services agency and Diplo's L.A.-based record label Mad Decent to create the cans. Mad Decent's team created four custom cans; the 27 other designs were done by various artists.
With the initiative, Bud Light is testing whether consumers will get excited about individualized cans. "There will be more initiatives in the future," said Lambrecht. "What the scale will be, we are exploring."