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Bud Light to Never ‘Fully Recover’ From Foray Into Culture Wars: Analysts

Published: June 28, 2023
A sign disparaging Bud Light beer is seen along a country road on April 21, 2023 in Arco, Idaho. Anheuser-Busch, the brewer of Bud Light, has faced backlash after the company sponsored two Instagram posts from transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney. (Image: Natalie Behring/Getty Images)

It appears as though Bud Light’s foray into the culture wars by partnering with controversial trans activist Dylan Mulvaney has resulted in the brand permanently shedding upwards of 24 percent of its consumers, analysts say.

In a Barron’s report by Mitch Collett, an analyst with Deutsche Bank, he wrote, “We believe recent underperformance implies a permanent reduction in ABI’s U.S. business. Our proprietary survey data suggests these headwinds are likely to fade even if we do not expect the U.S. business ever to fully recover from its current challenges.”

Collett wrote that data gathered by Deutsche Bank suggests that 24 percent of Bud Light consumers no longer purchase the beer.

However, he also upgraded shares of Anheuser-Busch (ABI), Bud Light’s parent company, to “buy” from “hold,” increasing the price target to $65.92 from $64.83, the report states. 

It’s not all bad news for the brand. Collett asserts that “Our survey data shows that Bud Light as a brand faces significant challenges–particularly with older consumers. However, we believe the forward-looking data sets imply that the challenges will at least partially fade.”

Controversy ensues

Bud Light’s woes began in April with social media influencer, TikTok star and trans activist Dylan Mulvaney posting a video on his Instagram account featuring Bud Light.

In the video Mulvaney talks about March Madness, a contest sponsored by Bud Light, and how he was celebrating day 365 of being a girl, while holding up a commemorative can featuring his likeness.  

Immediately following Mulvaney’s post, a wave of backlash ensued with calls to boycott the brand going viral on numerous social media platforms. The campaign prompted a number of celebrities to speak out including Conservative music artist, Kid Rock, who posted a video on his Instagram showing him shooting a gun at cases of the beer. 

Shortly after, Bud Light entered damage control, releasing a statement on April 4 saying, “Anheuser-Busch works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics and passion points,” however, they couldn’t stop the bleeding. 


The aftermath

Fast forward two months and it appears the brand has permanently shed a massive chunk of its consumer base.

The company, in an effort to regain its status as the number one selling beer in America, is now offering $15 rebates for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend.

The company is offering the rebate on purchases of a 15-pack of Budweiser, Bud Light, Budweiser Select or Budweiser Select 55. In places where 15-packs sell for less than $15, the beer is practically free. 

The company put two of its marketing executives on leave following the backlash and the company’s CEO put out a statement saying, “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over beer.”

The statement did not go over well with the LGBT community or its allies, with the group blasting the company for allegedly caving to political pressure.

The company’s coveted Corporate Equality Index score, a metric that rates companies on their policies for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees, was suspended by the organization responsible. Prior to the controversy the company had a score of 100, but now Anheuser-Busch was told they had 90-days to respond to the organization or it would consider docking the company’s score permanently. 

After a noticeable silence, the company has now released new advertising campaigns that partners with country music and NFL stars. 

Their new commercial “Easy to Summer,” is backed by the soundtrack “Good Times,” a 1979 hit by Chic.

The company’s social media feeds now feature NFL players like Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Dak Prescott.