The decision by Bud Light marketers to wade into the culture war by sponsoring a transgender activist in April led to a catastrophic boycott by conservatives.
And it’s getting worse.
Bud Light has seen sales of their brand spiral downward, starting at an 8 percent weekly decline and continuing to grow bigger. Last week the beer suffered a 24 percent decline in year-over-year sales, according to industry experts.
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Now it’s spreading to other popular Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD) brands — and it has Wall Street investors alarmed.
The company’s flagship beer, the iconic red Budweiser brand, suffered an over 11 percent decline for the week ending April 29.
Anheuser-Busch’s other mega brand, Michelob Ultra, was down nearly 5 percent for the same week according to an industry expert. Michelob Ultra was the 3rd most popular beer in the United States before the downturn, behind just Bud Light itself and Modelo Especial.
Sales of the company’s smaller brands, Natural Light and Busch Light, are also down 5 percent and nearly 2 percent respectively.
It has Wall Street experts standing up and taking notice.
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“It’s not just a Bud Light issue,” Bump Williams, an industry expert, told The New York Post. “It’s an Anheuser-Busch portfolio problem now.”
The company is suffering a “Bud Light crisis” that isn’t being addressed, HSBC stock analyst Carlos Laboy wrote on Wednesday.
Until the issue is addressed properly — there “are deeper problems than [Anheuser-Busch] admits” — the financial firm HSBC downgraded their recommendation of NYSE:BUD.
“The way this Bud Light crisis came about a month ago, management’s response to it and the loss of unprecedented volume and brand relevance raises many questions,” Laboy wrote.
“Why did its US leadership underestimate the risk of pushback given the recent experience of other firms? Is [Anheuser-Busch] hiring the best people to grow the brands and gauge risk?” Laboy asked, according to CNBC.
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“If Budweiser and Bud Light are iconic American ideas that have long brought consumers together, why did these marketers fail to invite new consumers without alienating the core base of the firm’s largest brand?”
The Horn editorial team