For years, Bud light customer service has leaned on silly ads and frat-boyish humor to stand out in the beer aisle. But that’s changing as the brand looks to grow up and attract a younger audience. That effort includes a sexy Super Bowl ad with Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry, as well as the ‘Bud Light Carry’ campaign that showcases women carrying rounds of beer to a table without spilling a drop. But some members of Bud Light’s traditional core audience have felt betrayed by its LGBTQ outreach and alliance, however small, with a transgender activist. And now they’re calling for a boycott of the company.
Despite a backlash from conservatives, Bud Light’s parent company Anheuser-Busch said it supported the decision to work with Dylan Mulvaney, an influencer with 1.8 million Instagram followers and 10.8 million on TikTok who has been documenting her transition. She posted a sponsored Instagram video on April 1 that featured her cracking open a Bud Light can and promoting a beer contest for March Madness. Bud Light also sent her a can with her face on it to mark the 365-day mark of her transition.
The post quickly sparked outrage from conservative social media personalities and the president of the National Organization for Marriage, who called for a boycott of Bud Light. A week later, Bud Light’s sales plummeted 21% during the week of April 17, according to Nielsen. That was the second consecutive week of declines for the beer.
Analysts say that Bud Light is in danger of losing its core audience, which accounts for around 20% of the company’s sales. They say the company is moving too fast to court a younger audience, and that those efforts aren’t paying off. They also warn that threatening boycotts and attacks on social media could have a chilling effect on the beer industry as a whole.
However, some analysts believe that Bud Light is still on the right track. They point to the beer’s low market share in the US and its relatively strong position among millennials and women, both of whom are more likely than men to support companies that embrace inclusion. In addition, the brand’s low price tag makes it an affordable choice for consumers on a budget.
According to a survey from Comparably, a company rating and review website, Bud Light has a Net Promoter Score of 15 with 53% Promoters, 9% Passives and 38% Detractors. The NPS is based on a question that asks customers how likely they are to recommend the product to others.
Meanwhile, the brewing giant is trying to dispel potential distributor misconceptions about the Mulvaney campaign. It’s meeting with wholesalers this week to address “misinformation” and explain that the single can given to Mulvaney wasn’t part of a formal campaign or advertisement, according to Beer Business Daily. The company also reportedly told the wholesalers that the can wouldn’t be sold to consumers.