1. Home
  2. Retail
  3. news
  4. Bud Light lost its crown as America's 'King of Beers' — but it was going to happen even without the conservative boycott

Bud Light lost its crown as America's 'King of Beers' but it was going to happen even without the conservative boycott

Cork Gaines   

Bud Light lost its crown as America's 'King of Beers' — but it was going to happen even without the conservative boycott
  • Mexican beer Modelo was the top-selling beer in the US for the second month in a row.
  • Modelo passed Bud Light, which has been the subject of a boycott by conservatives.

Modelo is now the king of beers in the US, or perhaps El Rey de Cervezas is more fitting.

For the second-straight month, Modelo was America's best-selling beer in June, according to data released last week by consulting firm Bump Williams, accounting for nearly 9% of all sales. It recently took the crown from Bud Light, which saw its market share drop to 7%.

Bud Light, which took the title as America's best-selling beer in 2001, has seen its sales dip over the past few months following backlash from some conservatives to marketing promotion featuring transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney and subsequent anger from LGBTQ advocates over Anheuser-Busch's response to the boycott calls. However, several signs show that the switch was inevitable, even before the protests.

As Jennifer Maloney of The Wall Street Journal noted last month, a closer look at the market data for each beer shows that Modelo has been coming for Bud Light's crown for a while.

"Modelo and Michelob Ultra (another Anheuser-Busch brand) both were on track to eventually overtake Bud Light," Maloney wrote, citing long-term market share data. "But before the boycott began this spring, a reshuffling of US beer rankings appeared to be at least a year away. "

Certainly, the recent attention sped up the shift, but the longer-term erosion of Bud Light's dominance is more indicative of changing demographics than anything. According to industry data, liquor and spirits overtook beer in 2022 as the dominant alcohol in the US by market share. And within the beer category, the growth of Modelo has been boosted by a growing Hispanic population and a shift to more premium options, as Barron's Markets associate editor Jack Hough pointed out on the Fox Business show "Barron's Roundtable."

"Everybody kinda figured Bud Light was getting hit by that boycott, so it fell out of No. 1," Hough said, later adding: "The Hispanic drinking-age population in the US has been growing much faster than the non-Hispanic one, and there has been a trend toward premiumization of beer. Modelo is the corporate, premium cousin to Corona."

So the question now is: what happens next?

Recent research from Northwestern University suggests that the impacts of product boycotts and "buycotts" (where consumers are encouraged to purchase a product being boycotted by others) can be short-lived, often lasting just weeks. But Neil Reid, a professor at the University of Toledo who studies the beer industry, told Reuters that the Bud Light boycott is lingering longer than expected. "This boycott has now become something much more permanent than anyone anticipated," he said.

Even if Bud Light eventually recovers some of its market share, the long-term trends already eating into its dominance mean it will be hard for the brand to reclaim the crown from Modelo. Even without the boycott, there was always going to be a new king of beers in the US; the coronation may just have come a few months earlier.

Popular Right Now