Bud Light is no longer America’s top-selling beer following the backlash from its advertising campaign with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, TheMessenger reports.
Year-over-year sales of Bud Light fell by 23% to $297 million in May, according to Circana data.
Modelo Especial, with $333 million in sales, overtook Bud Light to become America’s best-selling beer in May.
While Constellation Brands owns Modelo in the U.S., Bud Light parent, Anheuser Busch InBev, owns Modelo throughout the rest of the world.
Constellation CEO Bill Newlands said of the 15% increase in May sales and surpassing Bud Light that the ascendency happened “quicker than we had anticipated.”
“We thought that would take a little longer,” Newlands said. “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.”
Miller Light and Coors Light have also benefitted from consumers’ aversion to Bud Light’s tie-up with Mulvaney, with their market shares each increasing by 2% in the last five weeks, Cowen analyst Vivien Azer told CNBC.
Beverage industry consultants did not expect consumers’ Mulvaney backlash, which began April 1 with the debut of the campaign, to continue as long as it has. Some experts are now predicting that the damage to the Bud Light brand could be more permanent.
“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,” said Dave Williams, vice president of analytics and insights at Bump Williams Consulting.
Winning beer drinkers back over the summer months may prove critical for Anheuser Busch, Williams says.
“Companies invest a lot into being front and center and top of mind during this season, as there is only so much floor space to allocate, consumer money to spend and beer occasions to fulfill,” the beverage industry analyst says.
“If a brand misses those opportunities, then that is almost impossible to fully recover that lost potential over the balance of the calendar year,” Williams adds.
Modelo, meanwhile, is pouncing on its opportunity to expand sales this summer, with additional advertising and retail distribution, according to spokesperson Stephanie McGuane.
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