Bud Light’s Latest Move Pushes Drinkers Further Away, Ex-official Warns

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
July 5, 2023Businessshare
Bud Light’s Latest Move Pushes Drinkers Further Away, Ex-official Warns
A can of Bud Light sits in a cup holder in the stands during the Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore on June 28, 2023. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The former chief executive of Anheuser-Busch’s U.S. division warned that Bud Light will continue to see declines in sales if it avoids the controversy surrounding its decision to promote a campaign with a transgender influencer.

“This chasm that we’re seeing between Bud Light and its consumers is only going to intensify because every time you come out with one of these weak statements or some of these just platitudes,” former Anheuser-Busch President Anson Frericks told Fox Business on Monday, referring to the monthslong controversy.

After it produced cans featuring the face of the transgender social media influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, the backlash was swift and immediately led to a drop in year-over-year sales of Bud Light. In response, parent firm Anheuser-Busch released statements that did not address the Mulvaney controversy directly, while Bud Light instead has pivoted in its advertising campaigns.

“That’s not addressing the problem,” Mr. Frericks added. “And until you address the problem, I don’t see consumers coming back and coming back to this brand.”

Bud Light’s boycott, he added, is in “the fourth month” and is “something that should have been addressed three or four months ago by clearly coming out and saying: hey, Bud Light historically was always a brand that didn’t get involved in politics.”

The contagion will continue to spread, Mr. Frericks predicted, and the slumping sales of the beer will continue for seven months at least. Recent industry data shows that Bud Light’s sales are down 31 percent for the week ending June 17, representing a decline from the previous two weeks, while new sales data shows the light beer’s sales dropped 28 percent in the week ending on June 24.

The current CEO of the company should openly admit the campaign harmed shareholders, he said.

“The shareholders of Anheuser-Busch are those firefighters, doctors, police officers, etc., and to make sure that their retirement accounts and 401(k) accounts are done well, companies need to focus on great products and services, period. That’s it,” the former president told Fox Business. “Not necessarily get involved in a lot of different political issues or social issues.”

Mr. Frericks noted that Anheuser-Busch’s messaging seems to be an attempt to play both sides, making nobody happy. Some left-wing, pro-LGBT groups have called for a boycott of Bud Light, too, after the brand appeared to distance itself from the transgender controversy.

“And so right now, nobody’s happy with Bud Light and Bud Light’s trying to be everything to everyone, but right now, they mean really nothing to anyone,” he said.

Earlier this year, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev, Michel Doukeris, told analysts in a conference call that Bud Light only produced “one can” with the influencer’s face on it in what appeared to be a bid to distance the brand from the controversy and boycott. He also claimed that social media “confusion” and “misinformation” initially drove the boycott and said there was no partnership involved.

Sales Numbers

As Bud Light’s sales drop, the second-largest beer brand, Modelo Especial, is continuing to take market share from Bud Light. Modelo, which is owned by Constellation Brands in the United States but controlled by Anheuser-Busch InBev internationally, saw its sales increase 6.4 percent in the week ending June 24, Bump Williams Consulting data shows, according to the New York Post.

“Unless something dynamic happens to bring the lapsed Bud Light customers back into the fold, I don’t think we can expect anything to reverse the course” of Bud Light’s decline, Mr. Williams told the NY Post this week. “Retailers are trying to keep their shelves stocked with the right assortment,” he said, noting that Bud Light could actually lose space at stores if it continues to decline and as other brands increase.

Bottles Of Budweiser Beer
Bottles of Budweiser beer in a shop window in London on Oct. 13, 2015. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo)

Another analyst, Dave Williams, said that “the Fourth of July is the biggest beer holiday in terms of retail sales and an opportunity to move a lot of volume,” but “there has been no notable signs where the course has changed for Bud Light.”

In an attempt to take back a share of the light beer market, Bud Light offered a promotion that would reimburse customers $15 if they purchase a 15-pack of Bud Light, Budweiser, Budweiser Select, or Budweiser Select 55 between June 15 and July 8. Some stores are selling a 15-pack for around $15 in some locations, meaning that the rebate means Anheuser-Busch is essentially giving its beer away for free.

In a recent statement to news outlets last Friday, Anheuser-Busch said that it will continue to be “committed” to its work with “those in the LGBTQ+ community,” adding that “the privacy and safety of our employees and our partners is always our top priority. As we move forward, we will focus on what we do best—brewing great beer for everyone and earning our place in moments that matter to our consumers.”

The Epoch Times has contacted Anheuser-Busch InBev for comment on Wednesday.

From The Epoch Times

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