Salespeople working for independent wholesalers who sell Anheuser-Busch beverages are feeling the pain in their wallets from Bud Light’s ongoing boycott over its partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Bud Light sales have declined for seven straight weeks after the controversial TikToker’s endorsement of the product drew immediate backlash.
The partnership sparked protests and backlash, and parent company Anheuser-Busch lost $27 billion in value in just a few months.
The financial blow the company continues to endure is impacting its distribution channels.
Incomes have been cut for salespeople who work at the roughly 500 independent wholesalers who sell Anheuser-Busch products to restaurants, bars and grocery stores.
Some said they lost $2,000 last month compared to the typical May due to the backlash.
Bud Light has faced boycotts since April’s partnership with Dylan Mulvaney led to a drop in sales
Since partnering with Mulvaney, Bud Light’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch, has faced boycotts and declining sales
Anson Frericks, former executive of Anhesuer-Busch InBev – AB’s parent company – recently said ABC News boycotting the products is undoubtedly causing financial hardship for the thousands of salespeople who work for wholesalers who largely depend on performance-based pay.
Salesperson compensation varies by distributor and marketplace, but according to Frericks, a typical salesperson earns around $60,000 a year, including $20,000 in variable compensation, which is largely commission-based.
“Good people are going to start leaving because they’re not making money,” he told ABC.
An unnamed Florida-based distributor supervisor told the outlet that the average salesperson made about $2,000 less in the month of May than they normally would have based on recent numbers.
The numbers are hurting primarily due to a drop in Bud Light sales which hit a 60% drop in the week ending Memorial Day.
“It really, really killed a lot of guys who work on commission. That’s who it really hurts. There’s nothing they could have done – it was thrown in their face,” the supervisor said.
During an earnings call last month, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Michel Doukeris pointed out the stain the boycott has placed on distributors and sellers.
“This situation has impacted our staff and especially our frontline workers: delivery drivers, sales reps, our wholesalers, Bud owners and servers,” he said.
“These people are the fabric of our business. They are our neighbours, family members and friends. They are in every community in America. We have done everything we can to support our teams.
Bud Light tried to win back consumers, without success, and now some say they’ve lost commissions due to lower sales
“It really, really killed a lot of guys who work on commission. That’s who it really hurts,’ a wholesale supervisor said
Doukeris also said Anheuser-Busch InBev provided financial support to frontline workers at independent distributors, giving each employee $500 and additional advertising expenses for the month of May.
A statement from the company read: ‘Anheuser-Busch employs more than 18,000 people and our independent wholesale partners have an additional 47,000 valued colleagues. The current situation has impacted our employees and especially our frontline workers, including delivery drivers and sales representatives.
“These people are our neighbours, family members and friends. They are in every community in America. As we move forward, we’ll continue to do everything we can to support our teams while working tirelessly to do what we do best: bring people together over a beer.
Despite the best efforts of Bud Light and CEO Michel Doukeris, the brand has seen no rebound in sales since partnering with Mulvaney.
About two months ago, Mulvaney posted the digital content to her accounts to coincide with the NCAA March Madness tournament – joking that she wasn’t even sure what sport she was promoting.
The campaign was conceived by Alissa Heinerscheid, Bud Light’s vice president of marketing, who was furloughed shortly after the incident. His boss, Daniel Blake, the Budweiser Group vice president for marketing, was also removed from his post in the backlash.
For the week ending May 20, Bud Light sales in the United States fell almost 26% compared to the same period last year. For the week ending May 6, in-store sales fell 23.6%. And the previous week, ending April 29, sales fell 23.3%.
This follows the drop in sales for the week ending April 22, which saw a 21.4% decline. Seven days earlier the drop was 17%, according to NielsenIQ data provided to Dailymail.com by Bump Williams Consultancy.
The data – showing U.S. Bud Light sales dropping up to 20% every week – is uniformly seen by industry experts as a negative trend that may not be reversing anytime soon.
Beer Business Daily editor Harry Schuhmacher told Fox News Digital that “the whole industry is in shock.”
He claimed the new demand for non-Anheuser-Bush lagers could have a ripple effect on the industry.
He said: “Even Bud’s contestants don’t really dance on the grave because they know it could have happened to them.”