They Said Boycotts Rarely Work. This is Why Bud Light is Different.

By Simone Del Rosario (Business Correspondent), Brent Jabbour (Producer), Emma Stoltzfus (Editor), Heath Cary (Senior Motion Graphics Designer), Mohammed Ali (Motion Graphics Designer)When conservatives first shunned America’s best-selling beer Bud Light following the brand’s promotional beer can made for transgender TikTok influencer Dylan Mulvaney, experts quickly pointed out across the media that boycotts rarely work. But week after week, Bud Light’s beer sales plunged compared with the year before.

Less than two weeks into the controversy, Anheuser-Busch shares had lost billions in market capitalization. Two months in, Bud Light lost its two-decade reign as the nation’s best-selling beer to Modelo Especial. Later, Anheuser-Busch reported plans to lay off hundreds of corporate employees.There are two reasons the Bud Light boycott had the recipe for success when brand boycotts usually fail, according to former Anheuser-Busch executive and current Strive Asset Management President Anson Frericks. First, customers have options.

“Everywhere you have Bud Light, you also have Coors Light, Miller Lite, Yuengling, and for the vast majority of customers, they can’t really tell the difference in those brands,” Frericks said. “It’s water, it’s barley, it’s hops. Really the only thing that distinguishes those brands is the actual brand itself and what they stand for.”

Second, boycotters are getting constant feedback that their actions are having an impact. It’s not like when they boycott Target and have to wait three months for quarterly earnings to come out.“In the beer industry, there’s data that’s reported every single week from large retail data, Nielsen, IRI, etc., where they’re reporting what the actual sales numbers are,” said Frericks, who was president of Anheuser-Busch Sales and Distribution Co. before leaving the company in 2022. “So every week, there’s this new news cycle that kicks off showing, is Bud Light down 25%, is it down 30%, is it down 27%, which almost feeds on itself.”