More than one-in-three American beer drinkers will steer clear of Corona over coronavirus fears, as confusion and misinformation pose an unexpected challenge for the beverage brand.
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Google searches for the search term ‘corona beer virus’ have spiked significantly since mid-January in Australia, with ‘corona beer’ also seeing a significant increase in search volumes as confused Australians question whether there’s a link between the respiratory illness and the beer.
And it’s bad news for the popular Mexican beer.
The virus is causing significant negative buzz about the beer, YouGov America research has revealed this week.
The polling service’s Buzz score, which measures whether a brand is at the center of more positive or negative news or conversations, has fallen significantly for Corona since the virus’ outbreak.
And, separate research from US PR group 5WPR found that 38 per cent of beer-drinking Americans now would not buy Corona under any circumstances, and 14 per cent said they wouldn’t buy it in a public venue.
“There is no question that Corona beer is suffering because of the coronavirus. Could one imagine walking into a bar and saying, ‘Hey, can I have a Corona?’ or, ‘Pass me a Corona,’” said Ronn Torossian, founder and chief of 5WPR.
Hold up, is there a link between Corona beers and coronavirus?
Coronavirus’ name is derived from the Latin corona which means crown, and refers to the virus’ crownlike appearance.
It’s got nothing to do with the cerveza más fina (the finest beer).
But, as Torossian said: "While the brand has claimed that consumers understand there's no linkage between the virus and the beer company, this is a disaster for the Corona brand. After all, what brand wants to be linked to a virus which is killing people worldwide?"
Got it. Back to Corona beer
Corona’s parent company Constellation Brands isn’t too concerned.
“We believe, by and large, that consumers understand there's no linkage between the virus and our business," senior communications’ director Maggie Bowman told Business Insider.
But, the same YouGov research noted that purchasing intent for Corona beer is at its lowest ebb in two years.
Corona USA has also come under fire recently for its latest ad about a new drink “coming ashore soon”.
Introducing Corona Hard Seltzer. Four delicious flavors. One splashy entrance. pic.twitter.com/XrPPr6nWrB— Corona USA (@coronaextrausa) February 24, 2020
“Truth. EXTREMELY POOR TASTE,” one person said on Twitter.
“Shame on you for exploiting a real global health crisis. Next time we buy beer, it will NOT be Corona,” added another.
However, the company is standing by the advertisement.
Lessons from AIDS and Ayds
An unfortunate association can sink a brand, as diet suppressant candy Ayds discovered during the 1980s AIDS crisis.
Despite having been in the market for more than 40 years before the health emergency, its operating profit fell by nearly 90 per cent between 1980 and 1986. And by 1988, sales had halved.
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