According to sources, Bud Light’s sales have been on a downward trajectory since the Dylan Mulvaney controversy, and the impact has spilled over into other brands owned by Anheuser-Busch.
During the week of April 29, national retail sales of Bud Light were down 23.4% compared to the previous year, a worse decline than the 21.4% decrease experienced the previous week.
Furthermore, fresh data has shown that as beer drinkers become aware of how many other beer brands Anheuser-Busch owns, the negative backlash is growing.
Bump Williams, the CEO of Bump Williams Consulting, says that it is not just a Bud Light issue but an Anheuser-Busch portfolio problem, as the company’s other major brands are also seeing sales declines.
Budweiser, the company’s flagship brand, saw an 11.4% decrease in sales during the week ended April 29. Sales of Michelob Ultra, the third biggest-selling beer in the US, were down 4.4%. Even Anheuser-Busch’s smaller US brands, such as Natural Light and Busch Light, have seen sales declines of 5.2% and 1.8%, respectively.
The sales declines have been a significant blow to Anheuser-Busch’s dominant US beer business, with last year’s sales of Bud Light reaching over $4.8 billion.
Michelob Ultra generated $3.3 billion, and Modelo Especial had $3.75 billion in sales. On the other hand, Budweiser came in at number seven with $1.83 billion in sales. This year, Bud Light and Budweiser are the only top 10 US beers that have seen sales drop, with a 3% and 0.4% decline, respectively.
Bump Williams warns that if Bud Light fails to reverse its downward trend by the end of May, it will continue to lose market share, particularly during Memorial Day, which kicks off the summer season.
The company needs to correct these trends urgently, he added. The past four weeks have seen double-digit sales drops linked to Anheuser-Busch’s brief marketing partnership with Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender influencer who posted videos of herself drinking Bud Light in a bubble bath.
Benj Steinman, the editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights, says that Bud Light’s sales are declining more rapidly at bars and restaurants, where some consumers don’t want to be seen drinking it, or they get into arguments over the brand. On the other hand, rival brewers like Coors Light and Miller Light have seen more than a 20% increase in sales in the week ended April 29 compared to the previous year, according to Bump Williams and Nielsen data. Pabst Blue Ribbon was up 18.9%, while Keystone Light saw a 15% increase in sales over the same period.
Bud Light’s collapse, which is one of the most emotionally charged boycotts ever, shows no signs of abating, even as Anheuser-Busch’s CEO Michel Doukeris attempts to distance the company from the ill-fated partnership with Mulvaney. During an earnings call last week, Doukeris told investors that they need to clarify the facts that it was one can, one influencer, one post, and not a campaign. The company has not yet responded to requests for comment on the sales declines. Anheuser-Busch has informed distributors that an outside ad agency was responsible for tapping Mulvaney to promote Bud Light to the LGBTQ community but has stopped short of naming the marketing firm.