The recent boycott against Bud Light by a fringe group of extremist right-wing, anti-trans Christians, has created a stir in the U.S. socio-political landscape. This group, prompted by perverse figures like Matt Walsh who fetishize everything related to the idea of grooming children, initiated the boycott in response to Bud Light’s promotional campaign featuring trans woman, Dylan Mulvaney. While the boycott has seen Bud Light’s sales decrease in the short term, a closer look reveals a nuanced picture of typically limited overall success for the boycott.
It’s essential to understand and situated this boycott within the context (something the extreme right wing loathes) of modern consumer behavior. The diversification of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s product portfolio plays a significant role in maintaining the company’s market stability. While Bud Light U.S. sales have dropped by around 20% over the past month, the company’s other products continue to perform well, with sales dropping by only few small points if at all, effectively mitigating the impact of the boycott.
For example, Busch Light sales dropped a mere 1.8% in the same time period. So while Bud Light’s sales volume did drop in the United States during April following the temper tantrum over a trans spokesperson, that decline is really only a tiny dip amounting to a mere only 3% of Bud Light sales over the 2023 Quarter 1. Even more telling is that the dip amounts to only 1% of AB InBev’s overall global sales volume for the time period in question.
In other words, within the context of almost $15 billion in annual sales for the company, the monetary consequences of this for AB InBev. This fact reflects the advantage of having a broad range of products in different segments of the market, allowing the company to absorb shocks to any single product line with relative ease.
The specific demographic involved in the boycott is another critical factor in its limited success. The group leading this boycott represents a narrow segment of the total U.S. population and its consumer base. While the way they scream and stomp around about their views on Twitler is impactful within their circles, it doesn’t resonate with the broader public, which is generally accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. In addition, queer communities and folks on the left have also called for a similar boycott of Budweiser after the company distanced itself from and refused to defend Dylan Mulvaney. So in the longer term, it won’t even be possible (at least not with any honesty) for the right to claim singularly responsibility for small dips in global sales experienced by the company.
Aside from product sales specifically, the financial markets have remained largely indifferent to the boycott. While the company’s stock value experienced some ups and downs over the past month, it’s overall stock decline over the past month is negligible, and has to be viewed within context of an overall struggle stock market. Even more, the small dip in the AB InBev’s stock price over the past month also must be placed within the context of the fact that even after the past month’s small dip, the company’s stock is still up by over $6 per share over the past six months despite both the boycott and an overall volatile market.
The stability of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s stock value is a strong indication that investors don’t perceive the boycott as a long-term threat to the company’s profitability. Market actors typically react to events that pose significant, sustained risks to a company’s financial health. The current boycott, while garnering attention, has not triggered such a response, suggesting investors anticipate the impact to be short-lived or adequately managed by the company.
It seems then, that despite their claims of this being the most successful boycott in the history of the universe, like most boycotts the right-wing campaign against Bud Light has seen only limited success due to a combination of factors. The diversified product portfolio of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the specific demographic leading the boycott, and the indifference of the financial markets, have all contributed to this outcome. While the boycott has caused a stir and led to short-term decreases in Bud Light sales, its broader impact on the company remains well-contained.