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Analysis: Assessing Modelo Especial’s Ascent in America

For the first time, Mexican beer Modelo Especial recently became the top-selling beer in North America, surpassing Bud Light, which had been the number one beer for two decades.

Modelo’s ascent in North America begs the question: What does this news signify for the alcohol industry?

According to Nielsen IQ data published in The New Yorker, sales of Bud Light fell 7.3%, while Modelo Especial rose by 8.4% in the same period. The growth can be attributed to a number of factors: first, there’s a new generation of consumers who prefer alternative and imported beers and are willing to pay more for something different. NBC News reported that Modelo Especial´s sales have been growing consistently in recent years.

Another factor that may have contributed to Bud Light´s decline is a recent controversy involving Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender influencer who promoted a Bud Light contest. Mulvaney´s post on Instagram caused a conservative-led boycott against Bud Light, and since then the stocks of Anheuser-Busch, the company that manages Bud Light, dropped significantly, losing almost $25 billion in market value according to Forbes.


Building Momentum

Despite recent events, the truth is that Modelo Especial and other Mexican beers (such as Corona, Pacifico, and Negra Modelo) have steadily been gaining popularity in North America. In fact, according to a recent article in The Washington Post, 97% of all Mexican beer exports go to the United States.

Additionally, recent information from Trade Data Monitor shows that Mexico accounts for 30% of the world´s entire export-beer market, putting the Netherlands in second place with 14%, followed by Belgium with 13% and Germany with 9%.
The market has become more competitive, with a variety of options available to drinkers, including beers, canned cocktails, and non-alcoholic products. Moreover, the Latin American beverage industry is growing, and not only Mexican beers are attractive for North Americans, but also Brazilian beers, Colombian beers, Costa Rican beers, among others.

This trend is apparent in the popularity of imported beers in the U.S. Here’s a list of the most popular Latin American beers in America:

  • Imperial (from Costa Rica)
  • Pacífico (Mexico)
  • Negra Modelo (Mexico)
  • Club Colombia (Colombia)
  • Quilmes (Argentina)
  • Cusqueña (Peru)
  • Dos Equis (Mexico)
  • Port Royal Export (Honduras)
  • Polar (Venezuela)

Manufacturers Forced to Get Creative

The U.S. is the world’s largest beer importer, accounting for almost two out of every five cross-border beer dollars. There’s no doubt that the U.S. beer market is important for Latin American beer producers and exporters around the world, who are seeking to expand their operations to meet the growing demand for their products.

In 2023, consumers are looking for unique and interesting flavors. With the increasing number of beer options in the market, the U.S. beer industry has become dynamic. Compared to a decade ago, consumers now have a lot more beverage alternatives, which has challenged different brands to design more compelling and creative marketing and sales strategies. For example, some breweries are experimenting with spice flavors in beers, and others have gluten-free beers, reaching a smaller and more specific segment.

Ultimately, recent events show that the beer market in America is evolving, and consumers are becoming more selective with their choices, allowing brands like Modelo Especial to achieve higher sales and make an attention-grabbing ascent.