‘Consumers are lost forever’: Bud Light sales remain 30% down since Dylan Mulvaney marketing debacle six months ago – as industry expert warns decline could be ‘quasi-permanent’
Bud Light’s damages are so severe, there is concern over whether the brand can ever fully recover after the prolonged decline in sales and loss of consumer confidence ever since the Dylan Mulvaney marketing debacle six months ago.
The damage to the brand is now being described as ‘quasi-permanent,’ according to Beer Business Daily publisher Harry Schuhmacher. ‘The Bud Light situation has actually gotten worse,’ he told Fox News Digital.
Despite initial hopes of a rebound, the brand remains down around 30 percent in volume compared to last year, persisting since May or June, and consumers might be lost ‘forever.’
Schuhmacher, a seasoned industry expert who has been monitoring the brand’s decline since its controversial promo with the trans influencer last spring, said Bud Light’s struggles continue and pose serious challenges to its future prospects.
‘You see Bud Light still just stubbornly down around 30 percent in volume compared to last year, which is where it’s been since May or June,’ Schuhmacher told Fox News Digital. ‘That tells me that this is quasi-permanent, meaning those consumers are just lost forever.’
Bud Light’s damages are so severe, there is concern over whether the brand can ever fully recover after the prolonged decline in sales and loss of consumer confidence ever since the Dylan Mulvaney marketing debacle six months ago
Bud Light’s historic decline came after it partnered with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney for a marketing campaign
Loss of retail confidence can result in a decrease in shelf and display space, hampering inventory placement and visibility in stores
Both conservatives and liberals alike are boycotting America’s once best-selling beer. While conservative are criticizing Bud Light for the promotion with a trans influencer, Mulvaney fans condemn the brand for not doing enough to support her.
Mulvaney claimed to have faced bullying and transphobia after the advertisement, which got so bad she had to escape on vacation to Machu Picchu.
Recent statistics show Bud Light’s latest week trends mirror its four-week trends, with declines of about 30 percent in dollars and 30 percent in volume, as reported by Bump Williams Consulting.
Schuhmacher predicts these year-over-year declines will continue for the foreseeable future, at least until April and May of 2024 when the controversy is in the past.
‘I think the industry thought it would have rebounded by now, but it hasn’t,’ he added. ‘It’s actually worse than just lost sales because now it’s getting to the point where it’s becoming systemic within the industry, and they’re losing the confidence of the retailers and that’s when it starts getting bad.’
The situation has escalated to the point where it’s affecting not just sales but also the confidence of retailers in the brand.
Loss of retailer confidence can result in a decrease in shelf and display space, hampering inventory placement and visibility in stores.
The summer of 2024 is seen as a pivotal moment for Bud Light’s long-term success, and the brand must work on regaining retailers’ trust, he said.
CEO Brendan Whitworth visited the Anheuser-Busch Houston Brewery to announce a $22.5 million investment on late August.
Schuhmacher acknowledged the challenges faced by wholesalers across North America, who have been hit hard by Bud Light’s struggles.
‘You see those end caps at the end of aisles at the grocery store? When you start losing those, it’s bad because you not only lose store visibility, but you also lose being able to load a lot of inventory into the store,’ he said.
‘Displays are a big tool for the beer industry to move beer, and that could be concerning to A-B (Anheuser-Busch).’
Despite initial hopes of a rebound, the brand remains down around 30 percent in volume compared to last year, persisting since May or June, and consumers might be lost ‘forever’
Millions of customers ditched the American brand within days of Mulvaney’s social media posts, with scores filming themselves pouring the beer down the sink and throwing the cans into bins
CEO Brendan Whitworth visits the Anheuser-Busch Houston Brewery to announce a $22.5 million investment on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, in Houston
Schuhmacher said the struggle continues for the brand as they are somewhat ‘powerless’ to fix their losses.
‘They’re somewhat powerless to fix it, except to remain really active in their local communities, which they’ve done and which they’ve always done. And really, that’s kind of the only saving grace for that brand is those local connections that the wholesalers have. But it’s been a rough summer for those guys, you know, shout out to them, and it’s probably going to be a rough winter,’ he told Fox News Digital.
‘We’ve never seen anything like this in the beer industry.’
Their local connections with communities may be the brand’s saving grace, but it has undeniably been a difficult period for them, he expressed.
Bud Light’s historic decline came after it partnered with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney for a marketing campaign.
The initial controversy arose when influencer Dylan Mulvaney featured Bud Light cans with her image on them, celebrating a year of ‘girlhood.’
In the controversial promotion, Mulvaney, 26, posted a video on April 1 of herself cracking open a Bud Light on her Instagram page.
The hangover from the catastrophic advertising push has been ongoing since the collaboration was released in early April.
Since the endorsement, the brand’s fortunes have taken a significant hit, and its path to recovery remains uncertain.
In August, the beer giant lost its place as America’s number one beer brand to Modelo Especial due to the controversy, a position it held for over 22 years.
Bud Light sales in off-premise locations such as grocery stores and gas stations had plummeted by 15.9 percent on a dollar basis and down 20.1 percent on a volume basis in the past year.
Millions of customers ditched the American brand within days of Mulvaney’s social media posts, with scores filming themselves pouring the beer down the sink and throwing the cans into bins.
And as the polarization spilled into bars across America, with patrons trading insults and recriminations over each other’s beer choices, some bar owners said they would stop selling Bud Light simply to prevent fights.
In August, Mulvaney finally broke her silence over the controversy, telling ‘Them’ magazine she prefers not to name her critics ‘because it gives them the satisfaction of believing they’re on my mind.’
‘It shows my followers that I’m standing up for myself, but also pushes that their narrative is loud enough to matter,’ she added.
Speaking openly about the backlash for the first time, Mulvaney said: ‘No matter your gender, people will project things onto you about who you’re supposed to be. And I think we equally have to tell people our actual purpose.