A survey says 38% of drinkers won’t touch Corona because of epidemic fear. Corona says despite that ‘misinformation,’ sales are strong

  • Marketing research firm YouGov estimates that Corona Extra beer’s image has taken a hit thanks to the coronavirus. 
  • For its part, the beer brand’s parent company disputes the idea that the epidemic is a major drain.
  • “Sales of Corona remain strong and we appreciate the continued support of Corona drinkers,” a spokesperson for Constellation Brands told Business Insider.
  • There is no link between the coronavirus and the beer brand.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Corona — Latin for “crown” — is one of the most popular beer brands in the world, its labels adorned with aptly with a golden crown. 

But the link between the word “corona” and a global epidemic has led to questions about whether or not Corona is in for a branding nightmare. The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has caused at least 2,900 deaths around the world since it originated in China at the start of 2020. Its name derives from the crown shape its viral particles form.  

Constellation Brands, which has the exclusive license to distribute Corona Extra in the United States, has unequivocally said that concerns that shoppers are ditching the beer due to fears over the illness are misleading.

“There’s a good amount of misinformation out there that doesn’t match the reality of the business or consumer sentiment,” a Constellation spokesperson told Business Insider. “Sales of Corona remain strong and we appreciate the continued support of Corona drinkers.”

But some studies have raised concerns about the health of the Corona brand. Public relations agency 5WPR surveyed 737 adult US consumers about Corona, finding that 38% said they “would not buy Corona under any circumstances.” A total of 16% said they were “confused about whether Corona beer is related to the coronavirus.”  

Market research firm YouGov calculates “Buzz” scores for brands, based on an average daily sample size of 357 respondents with an opinion on a brand. The firm also breaks down “purchase intent” for different products and brands, based on an average daily sample size of 2,110 participants.

YouGov found that Corona beer’s Buzz score dropped from 75 at the start of 2020, around when news of the coronavirus first began to spread, to around 51 in late February. YouGov noted that the beer brand’s additional drop regarding “purchase intent” could also be attributed to it being “closely associated with beach holidays.”

And in a case of unfortunate timing, Corona just released a hard seltzer campaign based on the slogan “coming ashore soon” — which, given the spread of the coronavirus from China to 55 countries around the globe, landed with a thud on social media.

But for its part, Constellation Brands has maintained that it trusts consumers not to link the epidemic to its beer brand.

“We believe, by and large, that consumers understand there’s no linkage between the virus and our business,” Maggie Bowman, a representative for Corona’s producer Constellation Brands, told Business Insider in January.

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