Coronavirus misinformation takes a toll on Corona Beer

Hemani Seth Mumbai | Updated on February 29, 2020

The coronavirus outbreak is taking its toll on the consumer perception of one of the most popular lager brands Corona Beer.

The spread of misinformation linking the lager brand to the spread of coronavirus on social media has impacted its overall perception amid consumers according to media reports. As per a report by SEO tool SemRush, the search for terms such as “corona beer virus” have spiked over the last month.

A survey by 5W Public Relations said that 38 per cent of Americans would purchase Corona "under any circumstances" due to the outbreak, and another 14 per cent said they wouldn't order a Corona in public. The survey encompasses a sample of 737 beer drinkers in US.

In another survey conducted by YouGov, the data collected showed that the purchase intent for the brand is at the lowest it’s been in two years. The survey, however also states that the “summer-y beverage is closely associated with beach holidays does see substantial seasonal fluctuation.”

“Purchase Intent is based on an average daily sample size of 2,110 US adults with an opinion of the Corona brand on a 4-week rolling average.,” said YouGov.

Constellation Brands (STZ), the company that manufactures the beer had released a public statement on Friday saying that the sale of the beer has been unaffected by the outbreak with the sales showing positive trends for the calendar year.

It said that the dollar sales of Corona have been up five per cent in the US per the latest four-week period ending February 16, nearly doubling the 52-week trend for the brand. Furthermore, it also said that the IRI dollar sales trends for the entire Corona brand family have outpaced their 52-week trend in the latest four-week and 12-week periods.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by this terrible virus and we hope efforts to more fully contain it gain traction soon,” said Bill Newlands, President and Chief Eofficer at Constellation Brands in the statement.

Newlands further condemned the spread of misinformation on social media that could affect the brand image. Corona's sales are heavily dependent on the US market according to the brand’s public statement. However, it has seen no impact of the public perception on its brand.

“It’s extremely unfortunate that recent misinformation about the impact of this virus on our business has been circulating in traditional and social media without further investigation or validation,” he said.

“These claims simply do not reflect our business performance and consumer sentiment, which includes feedback from our distributor and retailer partners across the country. We’ve seen no impact to our people, facilities or operations and our business continues to perform very well,” he added.

“Unlike many of our competitors, sales of our beer brands are focused almost entirely on the US market. Our company does not have much exposure to international markets such as China that have been most impacted by this situation. I’m extremely proud of the efforts of our team. We’ve built good momentum as we gear up for the upcoming summer selling season.,” Newlands said.

This is not the first instance of the spread of misinformation of the COVID-19 outbreak affecting a business.

In India, poultry sales have declined by over 50 per cent due to a false rumour that the coronavirus can be contracted through chickens being circulated on social media according to Godrej Agrovet Ltd, diversified agri-business firm as per a Reuters report.

The outbreak has claimed over 2780 lives in China alone with more than 78000 cases confirmed worldwide as of Friday according to media reports.

Published on February 29, 2020

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