Bud Light’s sales may not keep slipping forever.
At least that’s the vibe from a new Deutsche Bank survey of consumers, which flew under the radar of investors this week.
The proportion of beer drinkers who no longer buy Bud Light fell to 19% in August from 21% in July. The percentage of people buying less Bud Light was reduced by 1.7% while the percentage buying more improved by 3.2%.
Powering the budding comeback: consumption among those over the age of 25 and those earning less than $25,000 a year.
Deutsche Bank also found that disenchanted Bud Light drinkers may return in substantive quantity by early 2024.
“Crucially, the proportion of former Bud Light drinkers who say they are very unlikely to buy the brand in 3-6 months time has reduced from 18% to just 3%, a significant improvement,” the report’s lead author Mitch Collett wrote. “Our data also suggests that Corona and Heineken remain the main beneficiaries of Bud Light’s losses, however, the gains are lower vs July.”
Collett reiterated a Buy rating on Bud Light maker Anheuser-Busch InBev’s stock (BUD), citing its attractive valuation in the context of what could be a rebound in the company’s key brand.
That said, what consumers say they will do and what they actually do aren’t always the same.
Bud Light sales tanked 26.5% for the week ending Aug. 5, per new Nielsen data. That’s a faster pace than the week-on-week drop of 25.9% for the period ending June 17.
Bud Light volumes crashed 29.7%, accelerating from the week earlier’s plunge of 29.3%.
The sluggish stretch for Bud Light started after transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney created an Instagram post during the March Madness basketball tournament endorsing the light beer.
Following the post on April 1, AB InBev saw Bud Light sales trend lower through April. The declines appeared to accelerate following an April 3 video from country musician Kid Rock, which spurred a wider boycott by many on the right.
To try and stem the sales weakness, Budweiser offered US consumers in most states a rebate of up to $15 on a 15-pack or larger for July 4. The company has also reportedly been discounting Bud Light at retailers since the July 4 promotion.
By all indications, the gambit hasn’t paid off.
The sales pressure has stretched well into the peak summer drinking months as the uproar has continued to play out on social media and in national headlines.
And there are two things making matters worse for Anheuser-Busch InBev.
First, rival Heineken is actively courting disenchanted Bud Light consumers.
A Heineken spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo Finance that it will spend $100 million to market a new light beer called Heineken Silver to consumers. The company plans to give away 2 million free samples this year as part of that initiative.
And secondly, the controversy continues to weigh on the rest of the beer giant’s portfolio.
For the week ending Aug. 5, Michelob Ultra volumes fell by 2.9% and Busch Light declined by 7.3%. Both were accelerated declines from the prior week. Budweiser volumes fell 14.7% in the latest measurement week.
“We assume no recovery in Bud Light [this year],” RBC Capital Markets analyst James Jones said in a note this week.
Anheuser-Busch InBev stock has fallen over 5% in the past six months as the sales declines persist. The S&P 500 has advanced 8.5%. Meanwhile, Molson Coors (TAP) shares have surged 20%, and Corona maker Constellation Brands (STZ) shares are up 14%.
Brian Sozzi is Yahoo Finance’s Executive Editor. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn. Tips on the banking crisis? Email [email protected]
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