Corona’s parent company reports that its beer sales in the U.S. are up this year, contrary to viral Facebook posts that falsely claim its U.S. sales have dropped because of the new coronavirus.
Corona beer’s public relations team doesn’t want its brand associated with an epidemic, but viral Facebook posts are falsely stating that beer drinkers are shunning Corona as a result of the new coronavirus.
The posts take a shot at the intelligence of the public, claiming that “the fact that Corona Beer is experiencing a profit loss shows you that there is a problem with the IQ level of the general population.”
But Constellation Brands, Corona’s producer, says its U.S. sales are up in the early part of the year and the company doesn’t have much exposure to international markets, such as China, which have suffered a greater impact from the disease.
Corona Extra sales grew 5% in the U.S. in the latest four-week period, which ended Feb. 16 — “nearly doubling the 52-week trend for the brand,” the company said. The company’s sales are primarily focused on the U.S. market, according to a statement from Constellation Brands. Only 2.7% of the company’s $8.1 billion in sales of all its products were outside the U.S. in fiscal year 2019.
Misinformation about the beer was fueled by a survey that claimed some beer drinkers stopped buying Corona beer because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The survey about the Mexican-based lager was released Feb. 27 by 5W Public Relations and picked up by several news outlets.
The New York-based public relations firm said it conducted phone interviews with 737 beer drinkers in the U.S. and found that 38% “would not buy Corona under any circumstances.” But the company did not publicize the survey questions or state why more than a third of those surveyed would not buy the beer. The percentage of regular Corona drinkers who said they wouldn’t buy the beer was much smaller.
“Among those who said they usually drink Corona, only 4% said they would stop drinking Corona,” the firm said, “but 14% said they wouldn’t order Corona in a public venue.”
It also claimed that 16% of those surveyed were confused about whether the beer was related to coronavirus, which has spread to more than 700 people in the U.S. and killed more than 20.
The two names do share the common Latin root corona, which refers to a halo or crown. The beer reportedly derives its name and logo from the crown that adorns the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the town of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The name of the disease refers to the crown-like spikes seen through a microscope on the surface of the virus.
“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,” Bill Newlands, president and chief executive officer at Constellation Brands, said in the company statement. “These claims simply do not reflect our business performance and consumer sentiment, which includes feedback from our distributor and retailer partners across the country. We’ve seen no impact to our people, facilities or operations and our business continues to perform very well.”
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.
Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. Accessed 10 Mar 2020.
“Constellation Brands Beer Business Continues Strong Performance Despite Unfounded Claims About the Impact of COVID-19 Virus on Its Business.” Constellation Brands. 28 Feb 2020.
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McDonald, Jessica. “Q&A on the Wuhan Coronavirus.” FactCheck.org. 30 Jan 2020.
“Net Sales of Constellation Brands worldwide from 2012 to 2019, by geographic region.” Statista.com. Accessed 10 Mar 2020.
“5WPR Survey Reveals 38% of Beer-Drinking Americans Wouldn’t Buy Corona Now.” 5W Public Relations. 27 Feb 2020.
Garger, Kenneth. “Americans are avoiding Corona beer amid coronavirus outbreak, survey finds.” New York Post. 27 Feb 2020.