AB InBev reported lackluster Q2 earnings during a call with analysts Thursday, with Bud Light continuing to cause trouble for the company. The light beer has been facing controversy since April, after partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. During ensuing few months, the brewer launched an aggressive campaign for summer, expanding on its “Easy to Drink, Easy to Enjoy” platform. However, the beer is still feeling the heat, which helped Mexican lager Modelo dethrone Bud Light as the top-selling beer in America in June. Until then, Bud Light had held onto the title for over two decades.
Bud Light’s core consumer is going to be at the center of decisions going forward, according to Doukeris. The CEO mentioned three takeaways from engaging with consumers since April, all of which suggest a more politically neutral, sports-focused brand identity.
“One, they want to enjoy their beer without a debate. Two, they want Bud Light to focus on beer. Three, they want Bud Light to concentrate on the platforms that all consumers love, such as NFL, Folds of Honor and Music,” said Doukeris during the call.
The plan moving forward marks a shift from the direction Bud Light was steadily moving in for the past several years. The beer has long been a supporter of Pride Month and other socially liberal initiatives in an effort to court young consumers. However, from the earnings call, it seems Bud Light is putting the focus squarely on football and music. Folds of Honor, a program that supports families of fallen soldiers, will also be a priority. It remains to be seen if these changes will have any long-lasting impact on Bud Light’s market share.
In terms of advertising, the Bud Light brand recently appears to have shifted its focus to beer instead of hard seltzer, which is a relatively new category for the brand. From June to July of this year, Bud Light aired 3,400 national TV ads amounting to 579 million household TV impressions, up from a mere 32 airings last year, according to iSpot data shared with Marketing Dive. For Bud Light Seltzer, the brand aired approximately 6,000 ads during the same period last year, and just two this year.
More broadly, AB InBev continues to invest heavily in marketing. The first half of 2023 also saw increased marketing investments from the brand, resulting in a $5.6 billion combined investment in sales, marketing and capital expenses, per release details.