Bud Light is poised to lose shelf space at major retailers nationwide as fallout continues from the controversial partnership the beer brand struck with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
A beer industry expert told ABC News this weekend that retailers will likely want to devote valuable shelf space to top-selling beers.
Since Mulvaney’s hiring, Bud Light has fallen out of favor as America’s favorite beer, dethroned by Mexican beer Modelo Especial.
Beer expert Anson Frericks, who previously worked for Anheuser-Busch, the brewer that produces Bud Light, said it’s likely the beer will soon no longer hold prominent positions at Walmart, QuikTrip and 7-Eleven.
“During a busy Friday or Saturday evening shopping period, if beer is not available cold on the shelves, consumers choose something else,” Frericks told ABC.
Mulvaney, 26, partnered with the beer brand in April for its March Madness NCAA campaign and received a personalized can as part of the promotion.
A beer expert says Bud Light could be on the verge of losing its retail space as the fallout from the Dylan Mulvaney fiasco continues.
He added that shelf space is “the biggest determinant of sales in a store.”
“There will be a sea change,” Frericks added.
Bud Light is still reeling from its partnership with Mulvaney in April. The beer has since been surpassed by Modelo, Coors and Yuengling in sales.
Frerick’s statements were echoed by Dave Williams, vice president of analytics and insights at Bump Williams Consulting, who said it was common for retailers to monitor sales figures to decide which brands would occupy a privileged place on the shelves.
“There is explosive growth on one side and sharp decline on the other. This has a ripple effect that if Bud Light loses shelf space, it could make it a longer term effort to get back to where they were if they are ever able to do so in first place,” Williams said.
“You first have to be on the shelves to be able to sell,” he added.
Meanwhile, a Bud Light distributor in Wisconsin told ABC he was surprised by how long the boycott lasted.
“The boycott lasted longer than we thought. Every retailer has their own opinion on what sales warrant on their shelves. Time will tell,” he said.
The company said Bud Light sales were down 27% over a four-week period in September compared to the same period in 2022.
Last week, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates bought 1.7 million shares of Anheuser-Busch on the back of Wall Street analysts encouraging investors to buy shares of the beverage brand.
This month saw Bud Light’s latest attempt to bring back former drinkers with the launch of bottles specific to college sports teams, including the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
In August, Bud Light’s parent company said it was confident its U.S. market share had stabilized after a promotion to a transgender influencer cost it sales.
Anheuser-Busch Inbev announced Thursday that its U.S. revenue fell 10.5 percent in the second quarter.
The company said its total U.S. market share across all brands fell more than 5 percent to 36.9 percent in April, but then remained stable from late April to late June. Some of the company’s brands, such as Busch Lite and Michelob Ultra, have gained market share in the United States.
InBev CEO Michel Doukeris said in an August earnings conference call that the company planned to provide financial support to U.S. wholesalers through the end of December to make up for lost Bud Light sales.
Mulvaney, pictured at The Blonds fashion show, reiterated that she was never contacted by Anheuser-Busch before or after the collaboration.
But he also said that an internal survey shows that 80 percent of U.S. consumers remain favorable or neutral toward the brand.
“First, they want to enjoy their beer without debate. Second, they want Bud Light to focus on beer. Third, they want Bud Light to focus on platforms that all consumers love, like the NFL and music,” he said.
“We take feedback into account and work hard to win over our consumers. »
Some investors have raised concerns about the company’s discounts on Bud Light. In early July, for example, a Michigan grocery store was offering $15 off a 24-pack of Bud Light, which normally sells for $20.99.
But Doukeris said price increases over the last year have put the company in a better position to offer discounts. And he said summer marketing campaigns were planned even before the Bud Light situation.
Conservative figures and others have called for a boycott of Bud Light while Mulvaney’s supporters have criticized the beer brand for not doing enough to support her. Mulvaney said she faced bullying and transphobia, criticizing the brand for not reaching out to her amid furor over their partnership.
Doukeris did not mention Mulvaney by name during the earnings call.
“We’ve already had three months since this situation, and we continue to learn and we continue to move forward with the main activities that we know work everywhere,” he said.
The beer giant said its overall revenue rose 7.2% in the second quarter to $15.1 billion from the same period last year, with global brands including Stella Artois and Corona making up for lost Bud Light sales. That’s less than the $15.4 billion Wall Street expected, according to analysts polled by FactSet.