In the latest turn of events, Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Bud Light, has announced an interim redesign of select Budweiser and Bud Light products. The move comes in the aftermath of the controversy involving Dylan Mulvaney. The revised design for specific beer bottles will now flaunt a camouflage pattern, as a salute to the charity “Folds of Honor” that provides financial aid to the families of veterans and first responders in dire need.
This shift in marketing strategy, from featuring a transgender activist on a can to utilizing a camouflage pattern, signals a drastic change in direction. The transformation follows a substantial drop in sales for Bud Light and other associated brands. Conservative pundit Collin Rugg brought attention to the plummeting Bud Light sales figures towards the end of April, sharing a video from a grocery store showcasing the unsold Anheuser-Busch products.
The drop in sales is remarkable. The Bud Light boycott seems to be making its impact. Bud Light’s off-premise sales are down by 26.1% for the week that ended on April 22nd, as compared to the same period the previous year. The previous week had already seen a drop of 21.1%.
Year-to-date volumes are down by 8%. However, Coors Light and Miller Light appear to be capitalizing on this void, with their volumes increasing by 13.3% and 13.6% respectively during the same period. The mantra of ‘Go woke, go broke’ seems to be ringing true. The boycott has even extended to other brands under Anheuser-Busch’s ownership, as reported by The American Tribune.
As per the New York Post, nationwide sales of Bud Light plummeted by 23.4% year-on-year during the week of April 29. The previous week had already seen a decline of 21.4% compared to the same period in the previous year. The Bud Light boycotters have also stopped consuming other Anheuser-Busch-owned brands such as Budweiser and Michelob-Ultra. Budweiser sales fell by 11.4%, and Michelob-Ultra sales declined by 4.4% during the week of April 29.
Industry pundits have cautioned that if Anheuser-Busch does not swiftly handle this boycott, it could significantly damage the company’s brand reputation and operational success. Anheuser-Busch’s CEO, Michel Doukeris, has recently stated the company’s future course of action, emphasizing that there was no campaign or partnership with Mulvaney, only a single post.
Compounding the problems for Bud Light’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch, HSBC analyst Carlos Labor recently downgraded the stock due to the ongoing crisis arising from the controversial association with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
In a statement recommending the downgraded recommendation to “hold” the stock, implying that he no longer advised investors to buy into Anheuser-Busch, Laboy expressed that there are “deeper problems than ABI admits.”
Laboy critiqued ABI’s leadership for mishandling the brand culture transformation. The stock, subsequently, plummeted. “At Ambev, we think the answer is ‘yes’; in the US, we think it’s ‘no.’ The way this Bud Light crisis came about a month ago, management’s response to it, and the loss of unprecedented volume and brand relevance raises many questions.”
Specifically, the management’s reluctance to apologize or try to win back former Bud Light consumers with anything more than a modified bottle design might suggest to Laboy and other stock pickers that it’s not a company that can be trusted to make intelligent financial decisions.