First came the discounts to former customers. Now Bud Light is trying to pass some of those savings on to its distributors in a desperate bid to keep the suds flowing.
According to the New York Post, parent company Anheuser-Busch has set aside up to $150 million in incentive payments for distributors and retailers who pledge to keep Bud Light on their shelves through the spring. The latest handout builds on a program launched earlier this summer when Bud Light was in the height of its cancellation by conservatives over its partnership with transgender influencer Dylvan Mulvaney.
“I imagine for those that are having some cash flow concerns, this would help somewhat,” one distributor told The Post.
In addition, Anheuser-Busch is launching a “market share recovery incentive” program beginning in the second half of next year, according to a memo from Anheuser-Busch’s chief commercial officer Kyle Norrington and originally reported by Beer Marketer’s Insights. No further details about the program were immediately available.
Industry experts estimate that Bud Light has lost one in five customers as a result of its ill-timed partnership with Mulvaney, which was launched by a former marketing executive who pledged to move the American pilsner away from its traditional “fratty” image and toward a more “inclusive” population of younger beer drinkers. Initial outrage kicked off a summer of boycotts against “woke” corporations like Target, Kohl’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Skittles, and sports teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers for prioritizing progressive values over basic customer service.
The ensuing fallout dethroned Bud Light as the nation’s top-selling beer and later fell out of the top 10 most popular beers as it was eclipsed by Modelo and other best-selling beer brands. In a bid to stanch the bleeding, Anheuser-Busch offered discounts equivalent to free beer to customers in select regions, but the moves didn’t stop heavy layoffs at partners who bottled the beer and managed its advertising.
Even as conservatives have moved on from other brands, Bud Light continues to draw outsized criticism for kicking off the trend of canceling woke brands. Critics continue to point out how, despite its half-hearted apology, the brand continues to underwrite woke LGBTQ organizations.