street. Louis – Bud Light sales have plummeted since the company enlisted the help of transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney for a marketing campaign a month ago.
In the week ending April 22, the brand’s in-store sales fell more than 26%, according to numbers reported by Bump Williams Consulting, a Connecticut-based company that specializes in the alcoholic beverage industry.
And the decline is only accelerating. In the previous week, sales fell 21%. The week before that, it was 11%.
Bud Light remains America’s best-selling beer by far, said Bomb Williams, founder, president, and CEO of the agency that bears his name. In 2022, Anheuser-Busch InBev sold more than $4.8 billion of them in stores, he said, far surpassing the Modelo Especial ($3.75 billion) and Michelob Ultra ($3.3 billion).
But if the company can’t stop the decline in sales, especially as summer beer season approaches, “Bud Light is in serious trouble this year. I think it risks losing the top spot at the end of calendar year 2023 to Modelo Especial,” Williams said.
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Already, sales are down 8% for the year.
In early April, Anheuser-Busch sent a box of Bud Light to 26-year-old Mulvaney with a picture of her face on it. The influencer posted a short video of herself on TikTok — in a black dress and black gloves — drinking Bud Lite, noting that the promotion was part of March Madness and laughing that she didn’t know what a proper sport was.
An Anheuser-Busch spokesperson said Monday, “Anheuser-Busch works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across different demographics. From time to time, we produce unique keepsake boxes for fans and brand influencers, like Dylan Mulvaney.
“This memorial can be a gift to celebrate a personal achievement and not for sale to the general public.”
The setback was swift. Within days, singer Kid Rock posted a video of himself shooting beer cans. Two weeks later, model and influencer Bri Teresi did the same thing, but he was wearing an American flag bikini top and firing a semi-automatic rifle.
This was followed by an unofficial boycott of Bud Light by people protesting the use of a transgender person in the marketing campaign.
Williams said that when Bud Light brand manager Alyssa Gordon Heinscheid took over marketing the brand last year, Bud Light sales were already plummeting. I tried to increase sales with this campaign by trying to appeal to a smaller, more politically advanced market.
“Her big miss was that I don’t think she understood who the primary Bud Light shopper was. When she came out with her comments, she was taken as insulting, insulting, and juvenile. Enough of that,” said Williams, a Bud Light drinker.
Heinerscheid explained the shift in marketing strategy by saying that Bud Light had previously been “a sultry brand, kind of humor out of touch”. She is now on vacation, with Daniel Blake, vice president of major brands for Anheuser-Busch.
During the controversy, sales of Bud Light’s biggest competitors, Miller Lite and Coors Light, soared, Williams said. On top of that, he’s starting to see what’s known as the negative halo effect — other Anheuser-Busch brands are suffering because of the dispute.
“I also think what’s happening now is that anyone who drinks Bud Light and switches to a Michelob Ultra because they don’t want to be seen carrying a Bud Light, someone down the bar will say, ‘Hey, buddy,’” Williams said. “This is one of those Anheuser-Busch products that own it.”
The slowdown in Michelob Ultra sales is a particular concern for Anheuser-Busch because it has been one of the fastest growing brands in the market, said David Steinmann, vice president and executive editor at Beer Marketer’s Insights.
Meanwhile, Steinman said the company is getting heat from all sides. The anti-trans squad is upset by the association with Mulvaney, while the progressive squad is upset at what they see as a retraction of the pro-trans statement he made by sending her beer.
According to Williams, the decline in sales is hitting beer distributors especially hard, costing them millions of dollars a day. To stop the slide, Anheuser-Busch needs to team up with them and come up with a way to entice former consumers back into the fold, he said.
In addition, the company must remember who its customers are and apologize to them for abandoning them in their support of Dylan Mulvaney, he said.
“Now their compass is completely broken. There is no game plan,” he said.