Bud Light's Nightmare Plunge Continues, and What Distributors Are Saying Is Even Worse

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

So, in the wake of Memorial Day, when Bud Light was hoping to save itself, how are things looking now after two months of a boycott against the brand?

When we last left them about a week ago, the sales volume was down by almost 30 percent and I noted that they were in danger of losing their “number one beer in America” title to Modelo Especial.


In part, because of all the efforts by Bud Light to sell beer for basically nothing, the drop this week is not quite as steep as the prior week, but it’s still significant and it’s still dropping.

The latest industry figures, obtained by Newsweek via Bumps Williams Consulting, showed Bud Light suffered a 23.9 percent drop in sales value and a 27.8 percent tumble in volume year-on-year in the week ending May 27. That decline was overall much less steep than the one reported by the company in the previous week, when, according to BWC, it lost 25.7 percent in sales and 29.5 percent in volume.

From the numbers they have so far, it doesn’t look like Memorial Day saved them. There’s only so long they can offer the beer up for essentially free.

Almost two-thirds of beer distributors said Anheuser-Busch sales volumes were down on Memorial Day, while 62 percent said inventories are significantly higher in a survey.

A survey by investment firm Jefferies Group found that 65% of beer distributors expect the Bud Light boycott to continue for six more months and another 32% think it could be permanent, according to Brewbound, a beer industry publication. [….]

A separate distributor survey by Goldman Sachs showed most respondents do not believe Bud Light will make a “full recovery” in its “brand equity and market share,” Brewbound reported. Goldman’s survey was taken with 57 distributors who serve 200,000 retail outlets.


When the distributors don’t believe in you anymore and think the issue is going to be permanent, that’s a big problem. That might matter more than any weekly number.

But perhaps the worst news for Bud Light was that they officially got knocked out of the “number one beer” in America slot. Modelo Especial has now taken over the top spot.

Modelo Especial store sales topped $333 million in the four weeks ending May 28, a 15.6 percent rise on the same period last year, compared with Bud Light’s $297 million, a 22.8 percent fall, according to Circana/IRI data figures obtained by Newsweek via Constellation Brands, the Mexican beer’s U.S. distributor.

Bill Newlands, the chief executive officer of Constellation, said the four-week jump had happened “quicker than we had anticipated.”

“We thought that would take a little longer,” he added. “We’ve been very fortunate that, that’s gone a little quicker than we had anticipated. But what a great position to be in on the beer side.”

Modelo Especial outside the United States is owned by Anheuser-Busch. But inside the U.S. it’s owned by Constellation under a court decision to preserve competition. So that’s also bad news for Bud Light.

On top of all that, Bud Light then had yet another controversy with a report that they were supposedly sponsoring an “all ages” drag show event after the Flagstaff Pride in the Pines parade. Under 16 requires a guardian the ad says.


But then Anheuser-Busch claimed that “Bud Light is not a sponsor of this event.” Flagstaff Pride later issued a statement stating they “put out an incorrect promotional poster.” Nobody clarified if they had been one and it was pulled, only that it wasn’t currently sponsoring it.

That’s not exactly going to help Bud Light recover or step away from controversy. But they just seem to keep spiraling out of control.


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