Bud Light sales have seen a steep decline since their partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney in April, prompting conservative pundits to call for a boycott and parent company AB InBev to put two marketers on leave and announce layoffs.
But the owner of Bud Light asserts that sales have stabilized. According to HSBC analyst Michel Doukeris, an analysis of 170,000 consumers found 80% were either positive or neutral regarding Bud Light.
1. It’s No Longer the Best-Selling Beer in the U.S.
Bud Light was America’s top beer for nearly two decades before losing to a Mexican lager. However, sales have since taken a steep dive after it caused conservative outrage by teaming with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney to promote its beer. Anheuser-Busch announced layoffs and placed some marketing executives on leave following this drop, though its true impact can be found at bars and restaurants where Miller Lite and Michelob Ultra have gained market share from Bud Light.
Modelo Especial held 8.4% of U.S. retail dollar sales during the four weeks ending June 3, according to Nielsen IQ data analyzed by Bump Williams Consulting; Bud Light only claimed 7.3%. And this trend does not appear likely to reverse itself any time soon.
Since April 20, sales revenue for this brand has been gradually decreasing year-on-year, reaching its lowest point ever during the week ending May 20, when it dropped 24.7 percent compared to the prior year. Sales volume also witnessed dramatic drops–dipping as much as 60% just before Memorial Day, when beer sales usually increase dramatically.
One local beer distributor reported seeing Bud Light sales decrease dramatically at his liquor store and anticipates this trend continuing through summertime. Meanwhile, an owner of another liquor store in Collinsville, Mich., also informed USA Today of this phenomenon.
Anheuser-Busch InBev remains confident its market share in the U.S. will stabilize as backlash from Bud Light’s partnership with Mulvaney dissipates. “People want to enjoy their beer without the debate,” stated CEO Michel Doukeris on Thursday, noting that Anheuser-Busch InBev would focus more on promoting its beers with sports leagues and nonprofits that support military families and farmers – such as nonprofits that sponsor military families or farmers – in its promotion efforts despite facing boycott threats from conservative commentators and anti-trans activists: “We’re going to be here for a long time.”
Bud Light sales have taken a severe hit following outrage surrounding its partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, with sales dropping 60 percent during Memorial Day weekend alone — traditionally one of the three most important days for beer purchases annually. Furthermore, their stock value also experienced significant drops, falling nearly two percent.
But it’s not all bad news for the company, which still holds a firm position in the market. According to Business Insider, AB InBev has taken steps to market more aggressively outside of the US while seeing some stabilization of daily sales data and increasing marketing expenditures on Bud Light this summer by tripling media spending.
Still, regaining its position will prove challenging for AB InBev-owned beer. After losing its top-selling status to Mexican lager, Modelo Especial – also owned by AB InBev – Modelo Especial has moved to second position among US beer sales.
Even amid this turmoil, most Americans remain positive or neutral towards Bud Light. At the same time, Stella Artois and Corona have seen increased sales – yet it remains too soon to say whether this controversy will eat away at long-term revenue.
Experts agree that boycotts may have varied results on short-term sales, yet can be more successful when well organized with clear messaging.
Conservative groups have come together in calling for a boycott of Bud Light beer, alleging it is socially irresponsible in its partnership with transgender influencers and refusing to donate to organizations supporting same-sex marriage as further proof of bigotry by its makers.
Though Bud Light may take time to regain its market position, experts believe it will do so eventually. Consumers want their beer without political debates; consumers also expect Bud Light’s marketing campaigns – including those featuring musicians and NFL players as partners – to focus on platforms which all consumers enjoy, such as sports and music.
3. It’s Losing Customers
Anheuser-Busch InBev has reported a decline in US beer sales for their Bud Light brand this year, attributing it to conservative backlash over their partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney and their campaign that resulted in US sales being reduced by over $395 Million. They pledged their continued work toward winning back consumers.
Bud Light stock has seen a significant decline since April, and two of its top marketing executives have taken a leave of absence over a controversy involving their product, yet management remains confident that market share for Bud Light will stabilize and continue its usual steady rise.
Anheuser-Busch reported a drop in sales for its other brands, such as Michelob, Stella Artois, Corona, and Beck’s; however, retail and wholesaler sales dropped more dramatically than consumer purchases, ultimately leading to an overall decrease in U.S. revenue.
Bud Light recently surveyed more than 170,000 customers. He found that nearly 80% have either favorable or neutral views about its brand, including through partnerships with musicians and NFL players. It added that its mission to restore Bud Light’s standing in America had working closely with musicians and NFL players.
But Bud Light continues to see its market share diminish in the US, losing ground to Constellation Brands’ Modelo Especial as America’s top-selling beer. According to consulting firm Bump Williams and Nielsen IQ data sources, sales were down 24.6% year over year in four weeks ending June 3.
But some observers maintain that Bud Light sales declines are overstated due to an ongoing shift in consumer tastes. They argue that more drinkers prefer craft beers and low-cal beverages like Bud Light over mass-produced options like Bud Light; furthermore, many US alcohol industry entities have experienced rising competition from new products such as wine coolers; furthermore, many consumers have become warier of buying products linked to controversial causes and are opting for socially responsible options like bottled water instead.
4. It’s Losing Money
Bud Light’s sales decline has cost it dearly, according to Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Thursday report that its U.S. revenue in the April-to-June quarter fell 10.5% as a direct result of its controversial marketing campaign with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Bud Light’s decision to promote an Instagram contest featuring Mulvaney, with over 1.8 million followers, caused outrage from conservatives and led them to call for a boycott, leading to a sales decline of 24.3 percent both in dollars and volume – according to Nielsen IQ data and Bump Williams Consulting this was one of the steepest drops seen this year.
Anheuser-Busch InBev has attempted to recover from the Mulvaney controversy, yet recovery will prove challenging. Not only has market share been lost due to customer attrition, financial analysts predict further market share loss through 2023 and may require layoffs of employees as part of its strategies for survival.
Bud Light remains popular, yet more people are choosing other brands over it; therefore, it no longer remains America’s best-selling beer; rather it now trails Modelo Especial from Mexico, owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev in terms of sales.
Bud Light’s controversial past has done considerable damage to its brand image. Many people feel betrayed by Bud Light, and trust between liberals and conservatives will take time to rebuild. Unfortunately, its missteps have made it an easy target of tiny but vicious communities that harass retail workers or call in bomb threats against businesses that target LGBTQ consumers.
Long term, the loss of sales won’t have a substantial effect on Bud Light’s profits; however, its reputation has suffered due to this controversy and consumers may switch brands. Should this trend continue, sales for Bud Light may decrease further or even go out of the top spot altogether.