Bud Light suffers bloodbath as longtime and loyal consumers revolt against transgender campaign
'In Bud Light's effort to be inclusive, they excluded almost everybody else,' says a St. Louis bar owner
Bud Light suffered a bloodbath this past weekend.
Consumers nationwide revolted against the nation's top-selling beer brand after it stepped "recklessly" into the culture wars last week with its new spokesperson, transgender TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney, according to bar owners and beer-industry experts around the country.
"I think society flexes it muscles sometimes and reminds manufacturers that the consumer is still in charge," Jeff Fitter, owner of Case & Bucks, a restaurant and sports bar in Barnhart, Missouri, told FOX Business.
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"In Bud Light's effort to be inclusive, they excluded almost everybody else, including their traditional audience."
He cited sports fans, working people and women as loyal Bud Light consumers the brand suddenly excluded in its race to go woke.
Bud Light-maker Anheuser-Busch is headquartered in nearby St. Louis.
But even Fitter’s bar witnessed a catastrophic decrease in sales of the hometown suds among loyal and local consumers this week.
Sales of Anheuser-Busch bottled products dropped 30% over the past week, while draught beer plummeted 50%, the owner said.
"In Bud Light's effort to be inclusive, they excluded almost everybody else, including their traditional audience." — Bar owner Jeff Fitter
Similar stories are found around the country.
Bud Light normally outsells rival products Miller Lite and Coors Light 25 to 1 at Braintree Brewhouse in Massachusetts, a sprawling sports bar just outside Boston.
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Not this week.
Eighty percent of Bud Light drinkers ordered something else this week, Brewhouse owner Alex Kesaris said — while the 20% who did order Bud Light "weren’t on social media and hadn’t heard yet" about its new transgender pitch person.
"They didn’t order it again," he said, after other patrons told them about the Bud Light marketing misfire.
One pub in Hell’s Kitchen, a New York City neighborhood known for its large and vocal gay community, reported that Bud Light draft sales dropped 58% this week, while Bud Light bottle sales were down 70%.
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Bud Light's decision to dive into the culture wars was a "bad decision" that defied "virtually every rule in building brands and marketing," a national beer-industry analyst told FOX Business.
He cited a nightmare scenario for Bud Light sales reps in Texas, where the brand has for years has sponsored a large weekly dart league with 100-plus players each Thursday night.
The bar sold only four 12-ounce Bud Light bottles this week.
The bar typically sells though three kegs of Bud Light at the event — a total of 495 12-ounce pours.
The bar sold only four 12-ounce Bud Light bottles this week, as the dart players held a mass protest against their league sponsor.
"They've already done enough damage in one week to disrupt year-long sales projections," a beer-sales representative who works with national beer retailers such as Costco told FOX Business.
"You don't just make up those sales. People aren't going to drink twice as much Bud Light the following weekend to recover the lost business."
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For a brand as large as Bud Light, the public relations calamity already represents millions of lost dollars — even if the consumer revolt ended tomorrow.
"If we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand there will be no future for Bud Light." — Bud Light VP Alissa Heinerscheid
Bud Light is famous for hiring the best marketing people in the business, the national sales rep said. But this time they hired the wrong person, he indicated.
Bud Light vice president of marketing Alissa Heinerscheid said she was inspired to update the "fratty" and "out-of-touch" humor of the beer company with "inclusivity" in a March 30 interview with the podcast "Make Yourself At Home" podcast.
But her effort to be inclusive excluded the people who matter most — Bud Light drinkers, according to St. Louis-area operator John Rieker.
"It's kind of mind-boggling they stepped into this realm," Rieker, who owns Harpo's Bar and Grill in Chesterfield, Missouri, told FOX Business.
"You're marketing to an audience that represents a fraction of 1% of consumers while alienating the much larger base of your consumers."
His customers, many of them loyal Bud Light drinkers, are baffled by the brand's lack of inclusivity.
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"It seems Bud Light has everything to lose and very little to gain," as its current drinkers "are not real receptive to this new development," Rieker said.
"I had a really clear job to do when I took over Bud Light, and it was, ‘This brand is in decline, it’s been in a decline for a really long time, and if we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand there will be no future for Bud Light,'" Heinerscheid said.
"Sometimes you just want to drink a beer without getting a lecture on social or political commentary or someone’s sexual orientation." — St. Louis hospitality consultant
Bud Light sales actually have been declining for years.
The brand is likely to be overtaken soon by Corona or Modelo as the nation's top-selling beer brand, according to industry observers.
The current ad campaign may hasten its demise with a self-inflicted wound, sources indicated.
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"Sometimes you just want to drink a beer without getting a lecture on social or political commentary or someone’s sexual orientation," said Patrick Imig, a hospitality consultant in St. Louis.
FOX Business reached out to Anheuser-Busch for comment but did not hear back by publication time.