Beer distributors are reportedly giving up on Bud Light, one of the most iconic beer brands in the United States after the controversial brand deal with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney caused a significant backlash among consumers. The fallout from the partnership has led to a decline in sales and a loss of trust from loyal Bud Light customers.
According to an unnamed executive at a Texas-based beer distributor, who spoke to the New York Post, “Consumers have made a choice. They have left [Bud Light] and that’s how it’s going to be. I don’t envision a big percentage of them coming back.” This sentiment reflects a growing concern among distributors who fear losing their customer base to rival beer brands.
The executive pointed out that Bud Light’s competitors, such as Coors Light and Miller Lite, offer a very similar product. In the highly competitive beer market, winning the battle for consumer loyalty often comes down to effective marketing strategies. As the executive stated, “Whoever is best at marketing” has the upper hand.
David Steinmann, executive editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights, echoed the sentiment, telling the Post that “There is an increasing feeling that this [Bud Light] decline rate could last for a while, and the distributors are worried about losing those drinkers to other similar brands.” This decline in sales has raised concerns among distributors about the long-term sustainability of Bud Light’s popularity.
Michael Stone, chairman of Beanstalk Group, a New York-based branding firm, also weighed in on the matter, acknowledging that targeting younger, newer consumers is the right strategy for Bud Light. However, he believes Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Bud Light, made a mistake in executing that strategy. The controversial brand deal with Dylan Mulvaney seems to have backfired, resulting in a loss of trust and loyalty from consumers.
The repercussions of this fallout are significant for Bud Light and could have lasting effects on the brand’s reputation. As distributors give up on the beer, it remains to be seen if Bud Light can recover from this setback and regain the trust of its former customers.
Recently, it was reported that some Costco stores have given Bud Light the “star of death” that signifies the product will not be replaced after it sells out. That news came only days after podcast host and comedian Joe Rogan interviewed film star and rap artist Ice Cube, who both derided the Mulvaney debacle.
Anheuser-Busch likely felt the sting of the consumer boycott most glaringly when Bud Light sales plummeted 28% before Independence Day on July 4, typically a strong period for American beer brands.