Because of coronavirus, 38% of beer-drinking Americans now say they won't order a Corona

Posted at 12:54 PM, Feb 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-28 14:54:45-05

Amid the ongoing havoc being wrought on people and industries by the coronavirus, Corona beer stands out as one unlikely casualty.

As the toll from the fast-moving and deadly virus expands around the globe, the Mexican beer is drawing attention on social media — and not in a good way. According to reports and trends-data provider SEMrush, recent weeks have seen a spike in internet searches for "corona beer virus" and "beer coronavirus." That suggests at least some people are mistakenly linking the Corona brand with the coronavirus despite the alcoholic beverage having absolutely no connection to the virus.

Another case in point: 38% of American beer drinkers surveyed this week said they wouldn'y buy Corona "under any circumstances" at the moment. It's worth noting that, among regular Corona drinkers, only 4% said they would now refrain. Yet 14% of the Corona drinkers admitted they would not order the brand in a public place, found the survey, conducted by 5W Public Relations. Sixteen percent of the beer drinkers surveyed by 5W were confused about whether Corona beer is related to the coronavirus, according to the publicity agency.

"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?" Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, stated in a news release.

The ad firm reached out to 737 U.S. beer drinkers this week, as concerns about the coronavirus spreading in the U.S. were intensifying.

Another sign the virus could be taking a toll on Corona's brand: A measure of how likely consumers are to buy the beer has fallen to a two-year low, according to figures from YouGov, a market research firm. Corona's "buzz score" — an online gauge of whether adults who know of the brand had heard positive or negative things about it — has skidded to 51 from 75 at the start of the year, YouGov found.

Corona is the third-most popular imported beer in the U.S., with Guinness the favorite and Heineken the second, according to YouGov's rankings.

Corona owner Constellation Brands told CBS MoneyWatch in late January that the company isn't overly concerned about people confusing its beer with the coronavirus. "We believe that consumers, by and large, understand there's no linkage between the virus and our beer/business," a spokesperson emailed CBS MoneyWatch at the time.