Expert Warns Bud Light Won’t ‘Fully Recover’ in 2024

Bud Light has suffered significant losses since April 2023.
Expert Warns Bud Light Won’t ‘Fully Recover’ in 2024
Bud Light, made by Anheuser-Busch, sits on a store shelf in Miami, Fla., on July 27, 2023. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

A top industry analyst said Thursday that Bud Light likely will not fully recover its losses in 2024 amid a sustained boycott after the brand engaged with a transgender social media influencer.

Bump Williams, president and CEO of Bump Williams Consulting, told CNN that the brand still continues to face consistent year-over-year losses, saying that its distributors “still feel insulted, slighted and minimized by corporate’s lack of apology and insensitive comments about how little Bud Light’s volume has had on their global business and volume trends.”

Earlier this year, Bud Light drew significant backlash after it produced a customized beer can for transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney, who posted images of the can on social media. The brand and its parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, immediately attempted to distance itself from the controversy, and Bud Light has since attempted to pivot back to its more traditional, NFL-related advertising.

But Mr. Williams said that he does not think that Bud Light will “fully recover its losses in 2024 and probably would have suffered greater declines” if it wasn’t for an announced Anheuser-Busch financial program that it set up with some Bud Light distributors.

A former Anheuser-Busch U.S. executive, Anson Frericks, told a Fox Business show earlier this week that certain companies, including Bud Light, will have a lengthy “road to recovery.” He noted that major corporations spend years building their brands via advertising and marketing campaigns.

“Finally, people are seeing that when companies get involved in these social and political issues that have nothing to do with their mission and their stock price plummets—that’s bad for these companies, that’s bad for people relying on them just to make them money so they can retire with dignity,” he added.

As Bud Light sales tanked, the Anheuser-Busch U.S. division head, Brendan Whitworth, said in late April his company did not want to be “part of a discussion that divides people,” although he did not directly address the Mulvaney controversy.

Later, in May, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Michel Doukeris insisted that there was no partnership between Bud Light and the transgender activist, claiming that social media “misinformation” was, in part, the cause of the brand’s losses.  He told investors that it was “the result of one can” and that one social media post was made.

In October, Anheuser-Busch reported a 13.5 percent loss for its third-quarter revenue in the United States, while Bud Light’s sales have since been surpassed by Modelo Especial. It noted that the decline was “primarily due to the volume decline of Bud Light.”

Mr. Williams, during the interview with CNN, said that other beers, including ones owned by Anheuser-Busch, will take over some of Bud Light’s sales. In recent weeks, brands like Modelo, Miller Lite, Coors Light, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Yeungling Lager are gaining in volume and dollars as Bud Light continues to post losses, he said.

Meanwhile, he “sees no reason” to suspect that Modelo Especial, a brand owned by New York-based Constellation Brands, will lose its title as the No. 1-selling brand in the United States next year.

In August, Coors said that combined sales of Miller Lite and Coors Light were 50 percent higher than Bud Light’s sales in the months after the boycott.

“Over the past few years, long before controversy upended the U.S. beer industry, we changed how we invest, market, and operate, and we changed our future. Today we believe we are built for growth, we expect growth, and we are delivering growth,” Molson Coors’ CEO Gavin Hattersley said in a statement to investors at the time.

Bud Light’s sales in stores were down by 28 percent in the four weeks ending Dec. 9 compared to the same period last year, reported the Wall Street Journal report that cited data from NielsenIQ and Bump Williams Consulting.

“This year in particular AB is driving the decline in the industry,” David Steinmann, vice president and executive editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights, told the New York Post in response to the sales decline.

Moving Ahead?

This week, a report indicated that overall beer sales declined throughout 2023, likely in part due to Bud Light’s decline. Beer shipments decreased by more than 5 percent during the first nine months of 2023, according to data from Beer Marketer’s Insights, it was reported.
UFC President Dana White is seen during UFC 261 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., on April 24, 2021. (Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
UFC President Dana White is seen during UFC 261 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., on April 24, 2021. (Alex Menendez/Getty Images)

In November, Bud Light said it was becoming the “official beer partner” of the UFC in a deal, while UFC CEO Dana White has repeatedly defended the partnership in multiple interviews, saying that people should be “drinking gallons” of the beer. Meanwhile, Kid Rock, who helped spur the boycotts by shooting cans of the beer earlier this year, told Tucker Carlson in an interview that he is now drinking the beer again.

Amid the controversy, Anheuser-Busch said this week that it remains optimistic for 2024.

In response, an Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman said that for next year, “we will continue to focus on what we do best—brewing great beer for everyone and earning our place in the moments that matter,” a reported the Wall Street Journal this week.
Katabella Roberts contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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