Bud Light proprietor Anheuser-Busch InBev exceeds forecasts in a quarter overlooked by the sanction

August 4, 2023: On Thursday, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, smashed earnings anticipations during a quarter that saw a social media-driven boycott of its bestselling Bud Light beer in the U.S.

The Belgium-based Budweiser owner stated that its second-quarter revenue rose 7.2% globally, as price hikes offset a 1.4% volume fall. The company said organic growth in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) was 5%, above a consensus forecast of 0.4%.

The Bud Light boycott was a comeback led by high-profile online personalities to the brand’s brief product placement with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, who was sent a bottle of the beer to promote in a video at the start of April.

The partnership sparked one of the most talked-about marketing furors in recent years, with Bud Light in May losing its spot as the top-selling beer in the United States to Constellation Brands’ Modelo, as sales fell 25%. According to its results, A.B. InBev’s U.S. revenues were down 10.5% in the second quarter, as core profit fell 28.2%.

The company then faced criticism for failing to support Mulvaney after the controversy, which attracted political attention and led to the reported leave of absence of the marketing executive who oversaw the partnership.

Zak Stambor, the senior analyst at Insider Intelligence, said A.B. InBev “managed to alienate both conservatives and progressives in one fell swoop” and noted the importance of marketing to a brand that is “not a markedly different product from other microbrewed light lagers.”

A.B. InBev CEO Michel Doukeris, on the company’s quarterly earnings call, told analysts the decline in sales has reached “stabilization with signals of improvement.”

He addressed the company’s response to the backlash, although he never explicitly called it a “boycott,” referring instead to the “Bud Light situation.”

“In the U.S., we are listening and actively engaging with our consumers,” said Doukeris. “They want to enjoy their beer without a debate; they want us to focus and concentrate on platforms that all consumers love.”

The company plans to take “different responses in different regions” but remains confident in Bud Light’s brand recovery.

In its earnings statement, A.B. InBev said research conducted through a third-party firm on its behalf showed that 80% of 170,000 consumers surveyed were “favorable or neutral” toward the Bud Light brand.

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