Modelo Especialhas emerged as the new champion in the American beer market, surpassing Bud Light in sales for the first time in 22 years. The dethroning of Bud Light comes in the wake of a controversial partnership with TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender rights activist and actress, which triggered a backlash among conservatives and led to calls for a boycott of the popular beer. (inside.beer, 4.5.2023)
According to consumer behavior data analytics firm Circana, Modelo Especial recorded USD 333 million in sales for the four weeks ending May 28, representing a remarkable 15% increase compared to the previous year. In contrast, Bud Light experienced a significant decline, selling USD 297 million worth of beer during the same period, marking a 23% drop from the previous year.
Next up are Michelob Ultra (USD 267.6 million), Coors Light (USD 241 million), and Miller Lite (USD 216.4 million).
The fallout from the Dylan Mulvaney controversy continues to impact Bud Light's sales, with Anheuser-Busch's Global CEO, Michel Doukeris, acknowledging that the brand is still facing conservative backlash due to a perceived long-term partnership with the influencer. Furthermore, the company's attempts to distance itself from the campaign resulted in backlash from the LGBTQ+ community, leading some establishments to remove all Anheuser-Busch products from their menus.
Despite its recent setback, Bud Light remains a popular beer and has sold more cases than any other competitor year-to-date. However, industry experts suggest that unless the brand experiences a significant turnaround in performance and regains consumer trust, its grip on the top spot may continue to loosen.
Modelo Especial, a pilsner-style lager originating from Mexico nearly a century ago, has capitalized on Bud Light's decline. Constellation Brands, which acquired Modelo from AB InBev in 2013, has prioritized the brand's sales by ensuring consistent stock availability in stores. The company plans to further boost Modelo's sales by expanding distribution and increasing its retail presence.
The upcoming summer months are crucial for Bud Light, as they present opportunities for increased sales during holidays and beer-drinking occasions. Breweries typically invest heavily in promotional displays at grocers and gas stations during this season, aiming to secure a prominent position in consumers' minds and maximize sales. Failure to capitalize on these opportunities could be challenging to overcome later in the year.
The battle for dominance in the American beer market between Bud Light and Modelo Especial reflects the evolving consumer preferences and the influence of social and political factors on brand perception. While Modelo currently holds the top spot, Bud Light has the potential to regain its former glory if it can reverse its sales decline and regain consumer loyalty.