As revenue for Bud Light continues to plummet months after the Dylan Mulvaney controversy, executives at the company fear issues may persist long into the future.
Bud Light: RIP?
Bud Light’s short-lived marketing campaign with transgender influencer Mulvaney saw a major backlash when it launched in April. Critics, spurred on by conservative campaigners, politicians and celebrities, called for a mass boycott over its “woke” advertising and attempts to play off the divisive American political climate.
The impact of the Bud Light boycott has been so detrimental that the company has been forced to make large-scale redundancies.
At the same time, there have been reports from beer truck drivers over heckling and harassment due to their association with the brand.
How Hard Has Bud Light Been Hit?
Bud Light, the nation’s top-selling beer consistently since 2001, now lags behind Modelo Especial in sales as the fallout continues.
Year-on-year sales of the product have fallen by nearly 30%, while parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev claimed sales to U.S. retailers dropped by 14% this year.
Sales have been so low that revenue has dropped by $ 400 million in North America alone up to this point in the year, with executives predicting no immediate increase despite Bud Light subsequently distancing themselves from Mulvaney.
Months after the campaign, Bud Light’s woes continue. Not only is the company struggling to regain lost customers, but it is also facing the possibility of legal action from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis due to the state’s shares of $ 50 million in the company taking a financial hit.
Executives Are Pessimistic
CEO Michel Doukeris acknowledged the impact on revenue in a recent Wall Street analyst call. “People, basically, they want to enjoy their beer without the debate,” he claimed on the call.
With customers looking to competitors to quench their thirst, Bud Light executives are expressing their frustration in interviews with media outlets. One executive, based in Texas, told the New York Post that beating competitors like Coors Light and Miller Lite came down to “whoever is best at marketing.”
“Consumers have made a choice,” said the executive who did not wish to be identified. “They have left [Bud Light] and that’s how it’s going to be. I don’t envision a big percentage of them coming back.”
The controversy has had a knock-on effect to distributors. “What’s helping distributors is having Modelo in their portfolio,” the beer executive said. “But if you don’t have Constellation [Brands, Modelo’s U.S. distributor], you are in a pickle.”
Beer sales, on the whole, are declining in the United States. In 2022, hard liquor took 0.2% more of the market share than beer as younger drinkers opt for alternatives, although breweries are fighting back by partnering with producers of canned cocktails.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
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