Business is absolutely booming thanks to Bud Light’s partnership with Dylan Mulvaney—just not at Bud Light owner Anheuser-Busch.
Capitalizing on the brewer’s missteps over its controversial promotion with the transgender influencer in April, rival Molson Coors hiked its full year guidance after reporting its single best quarter of net revenue since the Molson and Coors merged back in 2005.
“We didn’t plan on our largest competitor’s largest brand declining volume by nearly 30% in the quarter,” CEO Gavin Hattersley told investors on Tuesday.
A year ago, the once-popular AB lager brand captured more total industry dollars than Molson Coors’ Coors Light and Miller Lite brands combined. Now the rival duo are 50% bigger than Bud Light—and the outlook for Molson Coors remains rosy.
Hattersley said the “seismic shift” in the U.S. market had such an outsized impact that his company now expects global underlying income before tax to grow by 23%-26% this year, an increase from his previous expectation for low single-digit growth. His brewer also issued a more bullish forecast for sales and cashflow.
“We haven’t seen any slowdown in momentum for our brands,” Hattersley added after his U.S. breweries enjoyed their highest levels of production in May and June since 2019.
The Molson Coors boss had more bad news for his counterpart. Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth’s attempts to end the crippling boycott of Bud Light by slashing prices around summer holiday failed to make a dent in demand for Coors Light and Miller Lite.
“it’s important to note that the competitive pricing moves around Memorial Day and Fourth of July did not appear to have a negative impact on our brands, as our share gains continued,” said Hattersley.
Shelf space reset
The Molson Coors CEO furthermore confirmed recent suspicions from former AB sales chief Anson Frericks that beer retailers are moving forward their shelf space reset from the spring to the fall, allocating fewer square feet to display Bud Light beer.
This would lock in of sustained loss in market share: “We expect some portion of the current trends to be structural.”
Tasting blood, Hattersley is now leaning in with a commitment to spend a further $100 million in marketing so he can steal more market share from Anheuser-Busch, which is already firing employees even as it splashes out for an expensive new promotional campaign.
While Hattersley didn’t want to venture too much of a guess into how much of Bud Light’s market share he can retain, he promised to provide a view of his company’s longer term future at the upcoming strategy day in New York City scheduled for Oct. 3.
“We could not have foreseen the shifts in consumer behavior that began in the second quarter,” added his finance chief, Tracey Joubert.