Bud Light suffered its fifth straight week of worsening sales drops since the Dylan Mulvaney controversy began — stoking doubts about whether the mega-brand can recover as the crucial summer beer-drinking season begins.
Nationwide retail sales of Bud Light sales dropped 23.6% versus a year ago during the week ended May 6 — slightly worse than the 23.3% decline for the week ended April 29, according to data from Bump Williams Consulting and NielsenIQ data.
Sales of other Anheuser-Busch brands also continued to drop, albeit at a slower rate than the week before. Those included Budweiser, down 9.7% versus an 11.4% drop a week earlier; Michelob Ultra, down 2.9% versus 4.3%; and Natural Light, down 2.5% versus 5.2% the previous week.
“This seems to be where the brand’s weekly declines have started to settle, falling in that -20% range over the past few weeks,” said Bump Williams, chief executive of the consultancy, said of Bud Light. “I wonder if this going to be the ‘floor.’”
Meanwhile, rival beer brands competing against Bud Light — the No. 1 beer in the US, generating revenue of $4.8 billion last year — are grabbing market share at a faster clip as Anheuser-Busch grapples with the fallout over its ill-fated tie-up with the transgender influencer that launched April 1.
Sales of Pabst Blue Ribbon were up 21.6% in the week ended May 6 — slightly more than the 18.9% spike the previous week. Miller High Life gained 10.4% in sales compared to an 8.3% bump over the same time period the previous week, according to Bump Williams and NielsenIQ data.
“I think the Bud Light drinker is waiting for a genuine and sincere apology from [Anheuser-Busch] and a crystal clear communication on exactly what happened and how important the Bud Light drinkers are to the [company],” Williams said.
But some question whether these and other promotions will be enough to reverse the extremely negative public sentiment towards Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light in particular.
The company “is running out of time to fix the problem as the summer selling season unofficially started last weekend and memorial day is in two weeks,” Williams said.
Last week, the company held a meeting at its US 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 a camouflage print and images of the ‘Folds of Honor’ program, which provides educational scholarships for children and spouses of fallen or disabled American military service members and first responders, according to the executive.
The redesign is part of Anheuser-Busch’s efforts to invest heavily in the brand this spring and summer, as the Post reported. The company kicked off the blitz during the NFL draft at the end of April.
At some New York grocery stores this weekend, the company offered customers a free T-shirt with the logo ‘Ultra Mom’ for anyone who bought Michelob Ultra products.
Other likely marketing strategies, experts speculate, include discounting the beer at retail stores and investing heavily in sports marketing, and incorporating the US military and country and western music, farmers, law enforcement, and first responders into their advertising.
Beer drinkers across the country have registered their outrage against Anheuser-Busch for tapping Mulvaney to promote Bud Light. The brewery’s core customers opted not to order Bud Light at bars and restaurants – and more recently other beer brands Anheuser-Busch owns – or pick up cases and six packs in grocery stores.
The LGBTQ community has also denounced Anheuser-Busch for backing away from the promotion and not defending its decision to align with Mulvaney.
Anheuser-Busch placed two marketing executives — Alissa Heinerscheid, the vice president of marketing, and her boss, Daniel Blake — on leave last month.
Earlier this month, the top executive of Bud Light’s parent company Anheuser-Busch, Michel Doukeris, disavowed the Mulvaney tie-up.
“We need to clarify the facts that this was one can, one influencer, one post and not a campaign,” Doukeris told investors during an earnings call.