Anheuser-Busch Takes Huge Hit From HSBC Because of Bud Light Mulvaney Crisis

I keep wondering when the problems for Anheuser-Busch in light of the Bud Light controversy over their relationship with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney are going to level off. They’re now facing boycotts from people on both sides of the political aisle for their actions and lack of actions. Bud Light has become toxic in the mind of customers. But the problem has now extended beyond Bud Light and is affecting Anheuser-Busch’s other brands as well. Mostly, what’s affecting them is their failure to recognize what their base of regular customers wants and to make peace with them.

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However, the hits just keep on coming.

Now the stock of Bud Light has been downgraded by analysts at HSBC because they say the brand is in the middle of a “crisis” because of the controversy.

Carlos Laboy, a managing director at HSBC’s global beverage sector, downgraded the stock of Anheuser-Busch InBev to a hold status — meaning that investors should neither buy or sell shares of the company.

Laboy said that the backlash to the Mulvaney branding partnership is a sign that there are “deeper problems than ABI admits,” according to a note that was first reported by CNBC.

“Is ABI’s leadership getting the brand culture transformation right? It’s mixed,” Laboy wrote in a note that was published on Wednesday.

“At Ambev, we think the answer is ‘yes;’ in the US, we think it’s ‘no’,” Laboy wrote.

“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.”

“Why did its US leadership underestimate the risk of pushback given the recent experience of other firms?” Laboy wrote.

“Is A-B hiring the best people to grow the brands and gauge risk?”

“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?” Laboy asked.

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All excellent questions. They essentially tried to commit brand suicide by blowing off what a lot of their regular customers thought by jumping smack dab into the political fray. They seemed to care more about being in accord with whatever the liberal narrative was and what people who were not their customer base thought. It doesn’t make a lot of sense if what you’re thinking about is the health of the brand and making money.

It’s also not just one area of the country that’s mad at Anheuser-Busch. A map shows that Bud Light sales have dropped across the country, in every region.

The Rocky Mountain states were the worst, down by 29 percent, with the South Atlantic, West North Central, and East South Central all dropping by 25 percent.

The East North Central area – which includes Michigan and Illinois – was down 23.5 percent. The best area for Bud Light — the North East — still had an appreciable drop of 14 percent.

So it isn’t hard to see why their stock got downgraded and they just don’t seem to be able to figure their way out of it.

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