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Bud Light has faced an “unbelievable boycott” from customers as its sales have continued to face steady declines after its controversial partnership with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney, according to a new report.
Harry Schuhmacher, the editor and publisher of the trade publication Beer Business Daily, told NBC News that the backlash to Bud Light’s partnership with Mulvaney has lasted longer than anyone expected.
“Nobody imagined it would go on this long,” he told the outlet. “It seems random — it struck a nerve. I’ve never seen anything to compare it to, in all of the [consumer packaged goods] industry. It’s a real shock.”
According to recent data, sales of the once-popular Bud Light fell 28.4% for the week ending on May 13, coming on the heels of similar sales drops. While some of the decline is due to conservatives boycotting the beer, other people who are distancing themselves from the Anheuser-Busch InBev brand are apolitical, Schumacher said.
“Most people don’t care about this issue and don’t want to get roped into a conversation,” he said. “Therefore they’re not going to buy the beer.”
“It just seems like an unlucky draw,” Schumacher added. “The timing and the zeitgeist and the divided environment all combined to create this unbelievable boycott that nobody could have anticipated.”
The brand, which had already been slipping out of favor with the rise of hard seltzers and craft beers, had been trying to reach new audiences when the company hired Alissa Heinerscheid to revamp the brand — but when the Mulvaney partnership soured consumers, Heinerscheid was quickly placed on leave.
Schumacher’s comments come as Anson Frericks, the former president of sales and distribution for Anheuser-Busch, said that the beer brand likely faced a “long, hot, dry summer.”
“I think that you’re going to see sales continue to be down because customers, it’s too easy for them to switch to other brands, and they’re seeing the impact of their results,” Frericks told The Daily Wire. “If they want those customers back, they have an easy decision that they can make, which is saying, ‘We want Bud Light customers back, therefore Bud Light is not going to get involved with political issues moving forward.’ If not, they’re probably going to be in a worse position next year and their sales will continue to decline.”
Ben Zeisloft contributed to this report.