Corona parent company Constellation Brands today took aim at a survey put out by a PR agency that claimed people were cutting back on the beer because it shares the same name as the coronavirus. The survey, issued on Thursday by 5W Public Relations, claimed that “38% of beer-drinking Americans would not buy Corona under any circumstances now.”
“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,” Constellation CEO and president Bill Newlands said in a statement issued Friday afternoon. “These claims simply do not reflect our business performance and consumer sentiment, which includes feedback from our distributor and retailer partners across the country.” He added that “our company does not have much exposure to international markets such as China that have been most impacted by this situation.” (Anheuser-Busch InBev controls Corona globally.)
Constellation in its statement cited IRI retail sales trends showing that sales of Corona Extra increased by 5 percent in the four-week period ending Feb. 16, “nearly doubling the 52-week trend for the brand.”
5WPR’s survey of 737 American beer drinkers was conducted by phone on Feb. 25 and Feb. 26, according to the agency. The survey also reported that only 4 percent of regular Corona drinkers said they would stop drinking the brand, but 14 percent said they would not order it in a public venue. On Thursday, Ad Age asked 5WPR to clarify they 38 percent stat, in terms of if it included regular Corona drinkers. The agency responded that "the 38 percent of people who said they would not buy Corona under any circumstances now did not describe themselves as previous Corona-drinkers, they described themselves as beer-drinkers, in general."
The findings, which were released on Thursday, drew widespread media attention. By Friday morning, “38% of Americans,” was trending on Twitter. But much of the social media reaction was more directed at the intellect of anyone who would confuse the virus and the beer. Here, a sample: