Budweiser, one of the world's most iconic beer brands, has been hit with a significant sales slump following its decision to hire transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney as part of its marketing campaign. The brand, which is known for its traditional, masculine image, attempted to appeal to a more diverse audience by hiring Mulvaney, who identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them. If you remove the politics aside, you can see that the marketing team at Budweiser were looking for a big impact, however they were not connected to their core customers nor did they attempt to test it with their core group of customers as highlighted in an article by the National Post. Had Budweiser had a Customer Experience Platform, they would have been able to run a survey with some ad concept tests with their customers, then been able to select the most popular and bring a group in for an online focus group to see what their customers truly want or are interested in.
The backlash was particularly severe among conservative and older customers who viewed the hiring of Mulvaney as an attack on the traditional values held. Many took to social media to express their anger, calling for a boycott of the brand. While it is difficult to quantify the exact impact of the backlash on Budweiser's sales, we do know that stocks have plummeted and sales up til April 16th were down 17%. With many retailers have reported a sharp decline in sales of Budweiser products, and the brand's market share has been steadily declining in recent months.
The situation is particularly worrying for Budweiser, given that the beer industry is already facing significant challenges. The rise of craft beer and changing consumer preferences have led to a decline in sales of mass-produced beer brands like Budweiser. The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted the industry, with many bars and restaurants forced to close or limit their operations.
The Budweiser controversy highlights the importance of understanding your audience and the potential risks involved in attempting to appeal to a broader range of consumers. While it is undoubtedly important to embrace diversity and inclusivity, brands must be careful not to alienate their core customers in the process.
The situation also raises important questions about the role of social media influencers in modern marketing campaigns. While influencers can be an effective way to reach younger consumers, they can also be a source of controversy and backlash. Brands must be careful to vet their influencers carefully and ensure that their values align with those of the brand.
Regardless of politics or personal beliefs, Budweiser's decision to hire Dylan Mulvaney highlighted the fact that they are not in constant contact with their customers, and that they don't test marketing and ads with this demographic. While the marketing team may want to engage with pop culture, and what they think is cool and creative, it needs to be aligned with what the customer wants and holds dear.
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