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Bud Light loses its footing as America’s best-selling beer
Bud Light loses its footing as America’s best-selling beer

Bud Light sales plunged in May, toppling the beer brand from its longtime perch as the nation’s best-selling brew.

Parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) sold $297 million worth of Bud Light for the four weeks ending May 28 — a 23% drop from the same time period the year before, according to consumer behavior data analytics firm Circana. Modelo Especial ranked No.1 in May, with $333 million in sales — a 15% increase from 2022.

The sales drop for Bud Light follows a promotion debacle with TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney, a trans rights activist and actress, that sparked an uproar among conservatives including singers Kid Rock and Travis Tritt, who called for a boycott of the popular beer.

The company’s attempt to distance itself from the campaign caused further backlash, this time from the LGBTQ+ community, with some bars pulling all Anheuser-Busch products from their menu.

ABI did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

“Serious course correction” needed

To be sure, Bud Light is still enormously popular and has sold more cases than any competitor year to date, but the Mulvaney fiasco threatens to change that, according to Bump Williams Consulting, which tracks the alcohol industry.

“Unless Bud Light starts to experience a serious course correction in terms of performance, which can only come from consumers finding their way back into the brand family, then that firm grip on the No. 1 rank by year-end loosens a bit more every week,” Dave Williams, vice president of analytics and insights at Bump Williams Consulting, told CBS MoneyWatch.

Modelo Especial is a pilsner-style lager that began nearly 100 years ago in Mexico. Constellation Brands bought Modelo from ABI in 2013. Since then, Constellation has prioritized sales of Modelo, specifically by making sure stores never run out of stock, Williams said.

Constellation also plans to increase the brand’s sales by introducing “Modelo to new consumers through increased distribution and presence at retail,” spokesperson Stephanie McGuane told CBS MoneyWatch on Thursday.

Summer sales heat up competition

The next two months will be crucial for Bud Light sales as the summer ushers in more holidays and beer-drinking, Williams said. Breweries also use the summer to place more in-store displays at grocers and gas stations, he added.

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