Bud Light’s reign over the American beer market for the past two decades has ended with Modelo Especial taking the lead as the best-selling beer in the United States in May.
Modelo accounted for 8.4 percent of beer sales in United States retail stores during the four weeks ending on June 3, surpassing Bud Light, which stood at 7.3 percent, according to a Nielsen data analysis conducted by consulting firm Bump Williams, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Bud Light’s sales have plummeted since April, when transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney posted an Instagram image featuring a Bud Light can with his face on it gifted by the brand. This post triggered widespread backlash, leading to the resignation of Bud Light’s vice president of marketing Alissa Heinerscheid.
Bump Williams reports that Bud Light sales were down approximately 24 percent in the week ending June 3 compared to the same period last year. For the past several weeks, Bud Light sales have been down an average of 25 percent, CNN reported.
Since the Instagram post in April, Anheuser-Busch shares have fallen approximately 15 percent, while the S&P 500 has gained about 7 percent during the same period.
While Modelo may have knocked the beer giant down for this month, Bud Light sales make up 9.1 percent of the total market so far this year. Modelo has 8 percent of the market, “representing a gap of several hundred million dollars.” Bud Light’s total sales for the first five months of this year still remain higher than any other beer.
Bud Light’s parent company Anheuser-Busch relinquished United States sales of Modelo to Constellation Brands in 2013 due to an antitrust settlement.
Constellation’s chief executive officer, Bill Newlands, told Newsweek the quick rise in sales was unexpected.
“We thought that would take a little longer,” Newlands said. “We’ve been very fortunate that it’s gone a little quicker than we had anticipated. But what a great position to be in on the beer side.”
In 2013 Modelo did not rank among the top 10 U.S. beer brands. However, the brand has been seeing growth for several years, Greg Gallagher, vice president of brand marketing for New York-based Constellation, told CNN. He said they hope to replicate their success in Hispanic communities with other demographics.
Many Bud Light distributors consider the period between Memorial Day week and July 4 a pivotal time. Tanking sales have led many independently owned distributors to consider layoffs.
“Our year is screwed,” an Anheuser-Busch distributor told the Wall Street Journal.