Bud Light and Budweiser’s reputation under fire—are other AB-InBev brands weathering the storm?
May 26th, 2023, Hoang Nguyen

Bud Light and Budweiser’s reputation under fire—are other AB-InBev brands weathering the storm?

Over the course of the last month, Bud Light and Budweiser were two of the most talked about brands in the US likely due to the Dylan Mulvaney controversy and ensuing boycotts that followed.

According to YouGov BrandIndex, which monitors brand perception among consumers daily, the two Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) brands experienced significant surges in Word of Mouth (WOM) Exposure throughout April.

For Bud Light, its WOM Exposure score surged by 170% in April, with a low of 9.6% of US adults saying talked about the brand with family or friends turning to a high of 25.9% by the end of the month.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Budweiser also experienced a spike in the number of people talking about the brand during the same period, with a low of 9.9% and a high of 19.2% for a change of 94% in the beer brand’s WOM Exposure score.

To get a better understanding of the extent of the Bud Light boycott, we looked at whether Bud Light and Budweiser’s Reputation and Consideration scores have been impacted and how the brand metrics fare now.

We’ll also make a close examination of other brands under the AB InBev company portfolio to see whether there’s been a halo effect on the overall company’s brand image and bottom line.


Amid the spike in WOM Exposure for Bud Light and Budweiser, the brands’ Reputation scores moved in the opposite direction. YouGov’s Reputation metric measures whether people would be proud or embarrassed to work for and is delivered as a net score.

Bud Light began April with a Reputation score of 11.5-points which steadily declined throughout the month. By April 21st, the brand’s Reputation score crossed the line into negative territory and continues to fall even in mid-May.

We see Budweiser’s Reputation score follows a similar trajectory downward as April progressed and backlash came from conservatives. The end of the month spelled further bad news for both Bud Light and Budweiser when Anheuser-Busch's response to conservative boycotts led to accusations from the LGBTQ community that the company seemed to be distancing itself from Dylan Mulvaney and several LGBTQ bars and venues folded in Stella Artois and Michelob Ultra into their boycott of AB InBev products.

So how have other brands under Anheuser-Busch's portfolio fared amid the controversy?

Among US consumers aware of the brand, Bud Light Next (a zero carbs beer) seems to have taken the biggest hit in terms of Reputation. The beer brand reached negative territory by late April but appears to be stabilizing in May. Michelob Ultra and Bud Light Seltzer’s Reputation scores dipped slightly since the beginning of April but not nearly to the extent of Bud Light Next.

On the other hand, Stella Artois’ brand health remained stable over the last month and half.

What about Anheuser-Busch products’ bottom line?

In the wake of the controversary and boycotts, we looked at whether these events will impact Consideration for AB InBev products in the short-term.

At the same time that WOM Exposure trended up and Reputation trended down for Bud Light and Budweiser, YouGov BrandIndex data reveals that Consideration scores for both brands declined throughout April.

The bleeding appears to have stopped in May, though, with both brands’ Considerations scores stabilizing in a spot of good news for Anheuser-Busch. Today, roughly 11% of consumers aware of the brands would consider purchasing a product from Bud Light and Budweiser.

As for AB InBev’s other brands, Stella Artois appears to be faring best. The brand took a slight dip in Consideration in early April but its score has been trending up since mid-April.

Bud Light Next’s Consideration score also suffered a small dip but the decline has stopped and stabilized since mid-April. The same can be said of Consideration for Michelob Ultra.

Consideration for Bud Light Seltzer shows peaks and troughs through April but appears to be ticking up again by early May.

So, while AB InBev brands are not completely immune to the ”Bud-lash” last month, it appears the worst of the damage has been contained, even for Bud Light and Budweiser.

What we know for sure, however, is that both brands received plenty of earned media as news coverage and consumer conversations around the brand surged over the last month and half. YouGov will continue to track whether the impact of boycotts will affect the AB InBev brands in the long-term in terms of Reputation, Consideration and overall brand health.

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