When I was 16, I swallowed a mouthful of beer for the first time. I started to spit, and then I exclaimed to the adults who gave me the beer, “Why would anyone want to drink this stuff?” The adults laughed and stated that the taste of beer would, “grow on me.” I never drank beer again. I don’t drink any alcohol. Period.
Although I don’t drink beer, I know a lot about the beer industry as I enjoy researching companies; for example, AB InBev, the owner of Budweiser and Bud Light. Note: I nearly went to work for AB InBev. However, the CEO at the time, Carlos Brito, chose another candidate over me. I wanted the job because I wanted to work and learn from Carlos and other executives in the company. We don’t always get what we want.
I’ve paid close attention to what’s taken place recently at Bud Light. You can read the details here.
According to marketing experts who’ve commented on the issue, Bud Light made several mistakes. For example:
Companies MUST understand who their customers are. After all, how will a company provide their customers with a product or service that meets their needs if a company doesn’t know what their customers VALUE? If a company doesn’t understand what their customers value in a product and in their own lives, it will be nearly impossible to market the right message to engage with them.
In the case of Bud Light, they committed the biggest sin in marketing – they failed to understand what their customers value, and they marketed a message to them that clearly showed a disconnect with their target audience. The brouhaha erupted when Bud Light’s Vice President of Marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid, chose to recognize activist Dylan Mulvaney, in a marketing campaign. Bud Light’s customers reacted by immediately boycotting the brand, and making it clear to AB InBev that Heinerscheid, and the executives who approved the campaign, were out of touch with the people who drink Bud Light.
Bud Light CEO, Brendan Whitworth, made a mistake by not immediately stepping in and giving a mea culpa, and announcing that the company would no longer take part in any similar marketing campaigns. To make matters worse, AB InBev released a follow-up commercial that flowed with an America theme. Bud Light’s customers reacted with more anger at the clumsy attempt to make amends.
It’s being reported that Alissa Heinerscheid has stepped down and replaced by Todd Allen. Experts don’t believe it’s going to be enough to reverse the boycott which has erased several billion dollars from Bud Light’s value.
The only perspective that matters is the perspective of customers. Bud Light’s customers believe they were taken for granted.
Bud Light recognizes they made a mistake, and they’ve hired a team of advisors to help them identify a strategy for regaining trust and avoiding further mistakes. Bud Light has work to do.