Bud Light has been dethroned as the nation’s top-selling beer in recent weeks, a data analytics company said, a sign that the backlash the brewer received from conservatives over its relationship with a transgender influencer may be taking a toll.
Taking its place in the No. 1 spot is Modelo Especial, a Mexican beer made by Constellation Brands, making up 8.4 percent of U.S. retail beer sales in the four weeks that ended June 3, according to Nielsen IQ data analyzed by the consulting firm Bump Williams. Sales of Bud Light fell to 7.3 percent in the same period.
The shift follows a conservative-led boycott against Bud Light that started after Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender influencer, posted a video on Instagram on April 1 promoting a Bud Light contest. Bud Light’s share of retail sales has dropped about three percentage points since the boycott began.
Sales began to dip after commentators and celebrities on the right began to protest. Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Bud Light, later announced the departure of two marketing executives, but the company’s attempt to backtrack drew further criticism, this time from liberals and members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community.
The controversy has spotlighted the challenges brands and retailers like Adidas and Target have faced in marketing to L.G.B.T.Q. consumers in a polarized political environment.
Anheuser-Busch did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Bud Light’s missteps felt like a betrayal to both its liberal and conservative customers, and that trust is going to take months, if not years, to rebuild,” said Daniel Korschun, an associate professor of marketing at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business.
Sales of Bud Light hovered around 10 percent of U.S. retail beer sales until the four weeks that ended on April 22, when it dropped to 8.7 percent, and have trended downward since. Modelo, Coors Light and Miller Lite each saw bumps in their share of the retail beer market in the same period.
Research has shown that the effects of boycotts are often short-lived. Bud Light has dominated the market for at least the past two decades, but in recent years it has faced tough competition, said Dave Williams, the vice president of analytics and insights at Bump Williams.
“I can’t recall any other brand surpassing Bud Light in recent years, though brands such as Modelo Especial and Michelob Ultra have certainly been on an upward trajectory doing their best to narrow the gap between themselves and Bud Light,” Mr. Williams said in an email.
Bud Light still has a stronghold over the American beer market. Based on year-to-date data, it is still the top-selling beer in the United States. It also sells more beer by volume than any other brand.
The data analyzed was only for off-premise sales, meaning it does not consider beer purchases from bars and restaurants.