🏳️‍🌈 Is Bud Light in trouble? 🍺

published29 days ago
3 min read

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In this issue

  • Forecast: Will Bud Light's sales slump enough to hurt AB InBev?

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🏳️‍🌈 Is Bud Light in trouble? 🍺

AB InBev is a goliath. It is the largest brewer in the world and a case study in the way monopolization is strangling the US economy. Does a company like that really have to worry about the impact of Kid Rock’s social media on its bottom line?

Bud Light is in the middle of an anti-trans backlash and this week’s forecast is about how political polarization and social media-induced boycotts do and don’t affect companies. Will this controversy actually dent Bud Light sales?

This week’s forecast:

  • Will AB InBev’s total sales in North America fall by 6% or more in Q2? (By volume, year-over-year.)


In early April, Bud Light sent free beer to a transgender influencer named Dylan Mulvaney. She posted a promotional video—and set off an anti-trans backlash.

Conservative influencers and politicians began calling for a boycott. The musician Kid Rock, for example, posted videos of himself shooting cases of Bud Light. Employees of AB InBev have “been confronted by angry people on the streets” per the Wall Street Journal. The Los Angeles police were dispatched for a bomb threat at one of its breweries.

Bud Light announced in late April that two of its marketing executives were taking a leave of absence. In early May it said its marketing would stick to sports and music and that it would triple its US marketing spending this summer in response.

The Wall Street Journal reported that US retail-store sales of Bud Light were down 21% from a year earlier for the week of Apr. 22. AB InBev said in its May earnings call that global sales of Bud Light had dipped 1% in the three weeks following the backlash.

AB InBev is the world’s largest brewer. As of 2019, it had a 36% share of the US beer market, with just over half of that coming from Budweiser and Bud Light combined. It does not control the Miller brands or Coors despite a 2016 acquisition of SABMiller.



“Anna Tuchman, associate professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, has researched boycotts… Her research and other similar studies have found that such efforts tend to be short-lived and don’t have a long-term effect. Professor Tuchman said that, while people may be willing to change their behavior for a few weeks, it is much harder to convince people to change their long-term behavior.” —New York Times, May 2023
“Bud Light US retail store sales fell 17 percent in mid-April, but AB InBev can afford to be patient: as one academic study found, 'political consumerism campaigns on social media and their portrayal in the press are not always mirrored in [long-term] sales outcomes'… Anheuser-Busch should stick with its marketing approach, rather than wringing its hands weakly. These efforts to broaden Bud Light’s reach made perfect sense and it has since gained free publicity. ” —Financial Times, Apr. 2023
“‘Consumers tend to have an empowered voice but weak behavioral will,’ [Brayden] King [of Northwestern] says. ‘We’ve done some analysis that looked at the purchasing data of consumers. Some people expressed the belief that they had engaged in a boycott, but when we look at their actual purchasing behavior, there’s no difference in purchasing between those who believed they’ve boycotted and those who did not support the boycott. In that sense, the boycott almost seems more of an expressive kind of protest than a behavioral protest.’ … Boycotts can still be remarkably effective in dinging firms’ reputations, especially since the advent of social media, which reduces the costs of both expression and coordination for protestors.” —Kellogg Insight, Nov. 2019


How likely is it that AB InBev’s total sales in North America fall by 6% or more, by volume, in Q2? (As compared to Q2 of last year.)

​~10% chance​ ​​​​

​​​~30% chance​ ​​​​

​​​~50% chance​ ​​​

​​​​~70% chance​ ​​​​

​​​~90% chance​​​​

The fine print

Just want to make a quick forecast? Click a link above and you're done! Your forecast will be recorded.

Or, click a link and then complete the survey. You can provide your reasoning.

Deadline: Make a forecast by 9am ET Wed. May 10.

Resolution criteria: This question will resolve based on AB Inbev's Q2 financials, specifically its volume of sales in North America, compared to Q2 of 2022.


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