Bud Light: We've Weathered the Storm

Parent company Anheuser-Busch says market share is stabilizing after Dylan Mulvaney backlash
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 3, 2023 4:40 PM CDT
Brewer Says Sales Are Steady After Dylan Mulvaney Backlash
Cans of Bud Light beer are lined up before a Phillies game in April in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

Bud Light's parent company expressed confidence Thursday that its US market share has stabilized after a promotion with a transgender influencer cut into sales. Anheuser-Busch Inbev said Thursday that its US revenue fell 10.5% in the second quarter. Bud Light sales plunged during a conservative backlash after the brand sent a commemorative can to transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney in early April. The company said its total US market share for all brands fell more than 5% to 36.9% in April, but it then remained stable from the end of April through the end of June. Some of the company's brands, like Busch Light and Michelob Ultra, have gained US market share, the AP reports.

Still, the Bud Light saga has been costly for the brewer. In June, Bud Light lost its place as America's best-selling beer after more than two decades, slipping into second place behind Mexican lager Modelo Especial. InBev also owns Modelo, but in the US, the brand is imported and sold by Constellation Brands. In the month ending July 22, Bud Light's US retail sales were down 26% compared to the same period a year ago, according to Nielsen data compiled by Bump Williams Consulting. Year-over-year sales declines have been in the 25% to 30% range every month since the backlash began, the consulting company said.

InBev CEO Michel Doukeris said Thursday during an earnings call that the company plans to provide financial support to US wholesalers through the end of December to make up for lost Bud Light sales. But he also said internal polling shows that 80% of US consumers remain favorable or neutral toward the brand. "One, they want to enjoy their beer without a debate. Two, they want Bud Light to focus on beer. Three, they want Bud Light to concentrate on the platforms that all consumers love, such as the NFL and music," Doukeris said. "We are taking the feedback and working hard to earn our consumers' business."

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Some investors raised concerns about the company's discounts on Bud Light. In early July, for example, one Michigan grocery was offering a $15 rebate on a 24-pack, which normally sells for $20.99. Doukeris said price increases over the past year have put the company in a better position to offer discounts, per the AP. And he said summer marketing campaigns were planned even before the Bud Light situation. Doukeris didn't mention Mulvaney by name on Thursday's earnings call.

(More Anheuser-Busch InBev stories.)

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