(WTVO) — Billionaire investor Bill Gates is betting big on Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Bud Light, hoping for a change of fortune for the troubled company.
Anheuser-Busch’s stock is down about 7% this year, and its revenue down 14%, according to CNN.
The plummeting sales stem from an April stunt in which the beer company sent cans of Bud Light featuring Dylan Mulvaney’s face to the transgender influencer to celebrate a full year of “girlhood.” Mulvaney posted photos posing with the cans on Instagram with the hashtag #budlightpartner.
The Bud Light-Mulvaney partnership quickly brought an onslaught of criticism from people who said they were angry about the company going “woke.”
While working-class beer drinkers shun Bud Light for its perceived alignment with gender politics, it alienated left-wing activists who are angered that the company did not stand behind its transgender advocacy.
The buying power of the LGBTQ+ community is likely too big for companies to ignore. LGBT Capital, a U.K.-based investment company, estimates the U.S. has more than 17 million LGBTQ+ people with more than $1 trillion in spending power.
According to a 2021 Gallup poll, 21% of people in Generation Z identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, compared to 3% of Baby Boomers. Gallup has also found that younger consumers are the most likely to want brands to promote diversity and take a stand on social issues.
Bud Light has long been America’s best-selling beer. But its U.S. sales this year are part of a long-running decline as younger consumers flock to sparking seltzers and other drinks, according to Bump Williams Consulting.
This year, Modelo Especial became the top-selling beer, the first time the brand had ever eclipsed Bud Light in sales.
In July, Anheuser-Busch announced it would be laying off about 2% of its workforce.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.