Bud Light sales plunge 24% in the last week since the Dylan Mulvaney disaster
May 16, 2023 | 14:06
Bud Light suffered its fifth straight week of worsening sales declines since the Dylan Mulvaney controversy began — casting doubt on whether the mega-brand can recover as the crucial summer beer drinking season begins.
Nationwide retail Bud Light sales fell 23.6% from a year ago in the week ending May 6 — slightly worse than the 23.3% decline for the week ending April 29, according to data from Bump Williams Consulting and NielsenIQ -data.
Sales of other Anheuser-Busch brands also continued to fall, albeit at a slower pace than the previous week. They included Budweiser, down 9.7% against an 1[ads1]1.4% drop a week earlier; Michelob Ultra, down 2.9% against 4.3%; and Natural Light, down 2.5% against 5.2% last week.
“That seems to be where the brand’s weekly declines have started to settle, falling into the -20% range in recent weeks,” Bump Williams, CEO of the consultancy, said of Bud Light. “I wonder if this will be the ‘floor’.”
Meanwhile, rival beer brands competing against Bud Light — the No. 1 beer in the U.S., which generated $4.8 billion in revenue last year — are gaining market share at a faster clip as Anheuser-Busch grapples with the fallout from its ill-fated tie-up with the the transgender influencer that launched on April 1st.
Sales of Pabst Blue Ribbon rose 21.6% in the week ending May 6 — slightly more than the 18.9% increase last week. Miller High Life increased 10.4% in sales compared to an 8.3% increase in the same time period last week, according to data from Bump Williams and NielsenIQ.
“I think the Bud Light drinker is waiting for a real and sincere apology from [Anheuser-Busch] and crystal clear communication about exactly what happened and how important Bud Light drinkers are to [company]”, Williams said.
But some question whether these and other campaigns will be enough to reverse the extremely negative public sentiment toward Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light in particular.
The company is “running out of time to fix the problem as the summer sales season unofficially started last weekend and Memorial Day is two weeks away,” Williams said.
Last week, the company held a meeting at its U.S. headquarters in St. Louis with distributors to discuss its strategy for dealing with the backlash, The Post learned. Among the new initiatives planned is a temporary redesign of its Budweiser and Bud Light aluminum bottles, according to a distributor who did not want to be identified.
Anheuser-Busch will produce bottles with camouflage prints and images of the ‘Folds of Honor’ program, which provides educational scholarships to the children and spouses of fallen or disabled US military service members and first responders, according to the executive.
The redesign is part of Anheuser-Busch’s effort to invest heavily in the brand this spring and summer, as Posten reported. The company started blitzing during the NFL draft at the end of April.
In some grocery stores in New York this weekend, the company offered customers a free T-shirt with the “Ultra Mom” logo for anyone who bought Michelob Ultra products.
Other likely marketing strategies, experts speculate, include discounting beer in stores and investing heavily in sports marketing, and incorporating the U.S. military and country and western music, farmers, law enforcement and first responders into their commercials.
Beer drinkers across the country have registered their outrage at Anheuser-Busch for bottling Mulvaney to promote Bud Light. The brewery’s core customers chose not to order Bud Light at bars and restaurants — and, more recently, other beer brands that Anheuser-Busch owns — or pick up cases and six-packs at grocery stores.
The LGBTQ community has also condemned Anheuser-Busch for pulling back from the campaign and not defending its decision to align with Mulvaney.
Anheuser-Busch put two marketing executives — Alissa Heinerscheid, vice president of marketing, and her boss, Daniel Blake — on leave last month.
Earlier this month, the chief executive of Bud Light’s parent company Anheuser-Busch, Michel Doukeris, dismissed the Mulvaney tie.
“We need to clarify the facts that this was one can, one influencer, one post and not a campaign,” Doukeris told investors on an earnings call.