Bud Light Is No Longer America’s Top-Selling Beer After Boycott

In recent weeks, Bud Light, the long-reigning top-selling beer in the nation, has been surpassed by Modelo Especial, a Mexican beer produced by Constellation Brands. This shift in rankings, according to data analyzed by consulting firm Bump Williams, suggests that the conservative backlash against Bud Light regarding its association with a transgender influencer may have had an impact.

During the four-week period ending on June 3, Modelo Especial accounted for 8.4 percent of retail beer sales in the United States, surpassing Bud Light, which stood at 7.3 percent, as reported by Nielsen IQ data.

The conservative-led boycott of Bud Light began following a video posted by transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney on Instagram on April 1, in which she promoted a Bud Light contest. Since the boycott commenced, Bud Light’s share of retail sales has declined by approximately three percentage points.

The sales decline can be attributed to the protests and criticism from commentators and right-leaning celebrities. Subsequently, Anheuser-Busch, the brewery behind Bud Light, announced the departure of two marketing executives. However, the company’s attempts to backtrack faced further criticism, this time from liberals and members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community.

The controversy has spotlighted the challenges brands and retailers like Adidas and Target have faced in marketing to L.G.B.T.Q. consumers in a polarized political environment.

Anheuser-Busch did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Bud Light’s missteps felt like a betrayal to both its liberal and conservative customers, and that trust is going to take months, if not years, to rebuild,” said Daniel Korschun, an associate professor of marketing at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business.

Sales of Bud Light hovered around 10 percent of U.S. retail beer sales until the four weeks that ended on April 22, when it dropped to 8.7 percent, and have trended downward since. Modelo, Coors Light and Miller Lite each saw bumps in their share of the retail beer market in the same period.

Research has shown that the effects of boycotts are often short-lived. Bud Light has dominated the market for at least the past two decades, but in recent years it has faced tough competition, said Dave Williams, the vice president of analytics and insights at Bump Williams.

“I can’t recall any other brand surpassing Bud Light in recent years, though brands such as Modelo Especial and Michelob Ultra have certainly been on an upward trajectory doing their best to narrow the gap between themselves and Bud Light,” Mr. Williams said in an email.

Bud Light still has a stronghold over the American beer market. Based on year-to-date data, it is still the top-selling beer in the United States. It also sells more beer by volume than any other brand.

The data analyzed was only for off-premise sales, meaning it does not consider beer purchases from bars and restaurants.

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