AB-Inbev new strategy : e-commerce and alternatives to beer

Michel Doukeris, CEO of beer giant AB InBev since this year, unveiled his growth strategy for the coming years. In short: E-commerce and alternatives to beer (like hard seltzers) will increase profits and thus reduce the huge mountain of debt.

Acquisitions strategy

Last summer, Doukeris took over from the almost legendary Carlos Brito. Through an aggressive acquisition strategy, the latter made AB InBev, then a small multinational, the largest brewing group in the world. A journey that ended on a false note: the acquisition of SABMiller did not bring the expected synergies and burdened the group with heavy debt when it was already in operational difficulty.

Brito was therefore partly judged on its weak point: the acquisitions masked the weakness of organic growth, ie selling more beer. An area in which Doukeris had shown promise in his previous role at AB InBev in Asia and North America. The market therefore hoped that it would bring this experience to the group level. Last Monday, he presented his strategy to analysts.

Hard seltzers

First, Doukeris expects to profit more from the general growth of the global beer market than its main competitors, Heineken and Carlsberg. The launch of new varieties of beer is a classic driver of this strategy. But Doukeris strongly believes in the possibilities offered by drinks that are more on the periphery of the beer category, such as hard seltzers (flavored carbonated waters with an alcohol content similar to that of lager beers), canned cocktails and alcoholic lemonades (AB InBev launched Natural Light, lemonades containing vodka, last summer).

The other pillar of Doukeris’ growth strategy is electronic commerce. AB InBev is developing an extensive online sales offering for individuals around the world. The CEO of AB InBev is aware that the online segment has been greatly boosted by the coronavirus crisis. “Why would I order and have a pizza delivered and not a cold beer?” He winked in De Tijd.

However, there is not yet an online platform for individuals in our region, a spokesperson confirmed to RetailDetail. “But the company intends to extend it to all its markets”, we can read.