Industry Expert Predicts Continued Struggles for Bud Light Through 2024

Bud Light Faces Lengthy Road to Recovery in 2024 After Sustained Boycott: Analyst

A top industry analyst warned on Thursday that the popular beer brand Bud Light is unlikely to fully recover its losses in 2024, following a sustained boycott after the company engaged with a transgender social media influencer.

Bump Williams, president and CEO of Bump Williams Consulting, told CNN that the brand was still experiencing consistent year-over-year losses. He noted that Bud Light’s distributors “still feel insulted, slighted and minimized” by the brand’s actions and criticized corporate leadership for lacking an apology and making insensitive comments about the impact of Bud Light’s sales on their global business and volume trends.

Earlier this year, Bud Light drew considerable backlash after customizing a beer can for transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney, who posted images of the can on social media. Although Bud Light and its parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, tried to distance themselves from the controversy, the beer company has since attempted to return to more traditional, NFL-related advertising.

However, Williams said that he does not believe Bud Light will fully recover its losses in 2024 and that it might have suffered even greater declines if it were not for a financial program set up with some Bud Light distributors within Anheuser-Busch. This sentiment was echoed by Anson Frericks, a former Anheuser-Busch U.S. executive, who told a Fox Business show earlier this week that woke corporations, including Bud Light, face a tough and lengthy road to recovery after engaging in social and political issues that have nothing to do with their mission.

In April, Anheuser-Busch U.S. division head Brendan Whitworth stated that the company did not want to be “part of a discussion that divides people,” and in May, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Michel Doukeris insisted that there was no partnership between Bud Light and the transgender activist.

In October, Anheuser-Busch reported a 13.5 percent loss in the third-quarter revenue in the United States, with Bud Light’s sales surpassed by Modelo Especial. Williams said that other beers, including those owned by Anheuser-Busch, are experiencing increased sales, including Modelo, Miller Lite, Coors Light, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Yeungling Lager.

In August, Coors reported that combined sales of Miller Lite and Coors Light were 50 percent higher than Bud Light’s sales in the months after the boycott. Molson Coors’ CEO Gavin Hattersley also announced that the company believes they are built for growth and are delivering it.

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, with David Steinmann, vice president and executive editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights, telling the New York Post in response to the sales decline that Anheuser-Busch was “driving the decline in the industry.”

Looking ahead, a report indicated that overall beer sales have declined in 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.

In November, despite the turmoil, Bud Light became the “official beer partner” of the UFC in a deal. In response, an Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman said this week, “we will continue to focus on what we do best—brewing great beer for everyone and earning our place in the moments that matter.”

As Bud Light faces a challenging year ahead, the brand is hopeful for a brighter future while businesses continue to adapt to a changing market.

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