Anheuser Busch Marketing Case Analysis “We happen to be a marketing company that sells beer. ”- William Hickman, Vice President and CIO of Anhesuer-Busch (Field, 2000) Introduction ________________________________________ For years, companies have been relying on market research, data tracking, and data warehousing to help create marketing strategies. Marketing managers rely on this data to spot opportunities and problems and try to stay ahead of the competition.
Anheuser-Busch (AB) could arguably be called the “King of Data Collection” and much of the organization’s recent success can be credited back to their emphasis on data gathering and data sharing. AB is now the leader in the alcoholic beverages industry with 48. 4% of all beer sales in America in 2006 (www. anheuser-busch. com). The secret to their superior data mining and collection is BudNET, an online system that connects wholesalers, retailers, and other business partners by allowing them to gather data on sales, products, customers, and competitors.
In addition, the advanced technology allows AB to link to other data sources which include portable transaction computers carried by delivery personnel and bar code scan information. The company pioneered this new high-tech strategy and positive results are driving competitors to re-evaluate their own strategies. Key Success Factors ________________________________________ Getting wholesalers and retailers to agree to collect the data at the front lines The success of AB’s BudNET could greatly be attributed to the organization focusing on fine-grain data and quick distribution of results.
The best way for them to capture the detailed information was to request the responsibility be handed over to the front line, delivery people, wholesalers, and retailers. The buy-in from the wholesalers and retailers was critical to implementing the process changes, and became effortless when the distributors would benefit from access to this data as well. This new way of thinking has resulted in AB’s superior marketing effectiveness. More reliable exposure to demographic environment
Utilizing BudNET and its other technology data sources, AB has been able to maintain control over various demographic environments within and outside of the United States. The system’s robust capabilities have proven useful in data gathering related to ethnic markets. BudNET is used internationally and allows AB to become cognizant of growing populations of various ethnicities and be able to study their specific wants and habits faster than any other competitor. Recognizing the fact that China is the largest beer market in the world (World’s 10 Largest Beer Markets, 2005), AB created a strategic partnership with Tsingtao Brewery Company Ltd. China’s leading brewer, and acquired Harbin Brewery Group, Ltd. , the No. 5 brewer in China (www. anheuser-busch. com). AB has also expanded its business in order to reach out to the Hispanic community, one of the largest growing demographics in the country. In 1993, AB acquired 50 percent of Grupo Modelo creating an exclusive import and distribution agreement over Corona products. Finally, in recognition of the large presence of Hispanics in the US, AB began offering Tequiza in 1999. As a result of its extreme popularity within this demographic, Tequiza became the most successful new-product introduction in company’s history.
Keeping up with consumer behavior and quickly changing lifestyles BudNET and bar code scan data can also be credited for helping to track consumer buying behavior influenced by cultural, social, and personal factors. AB’s marketing team searched for relationships between their products and lifestyle groups and identified a need for a low-carb, full bodied beer to complement the developing trend of low-carb diets. In 2003, AB introduced Michelob Ultra and marketed it to the aging baby boomers by advertising in AARP magazines. It did not take long, however, for this beer o become the market favorite for adults of all ages who were practicing a more active, healthy life style. AB seized the popularity of its new product and expanded its marketing campaign to capture all of the people who were active in pursuing a healthy lifestyle. They started marketing at sporting events such as the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill golf tournament and became the “Official Beer” for Great Britain and the USA 2006 and 2008 Olympic teams. The low-carb beer’s popularity caught AB rivals off guard and left them scrambling to develop and market comparable products.
Becoming aware of social and cultural trends Although the low-carb diets may have just been a fad, the data collected through BudNET, and other data linked sources, also allowed AB to recognize major trends as well. There has been a gradual shift in consumer tastes toward premium beers in recent years. AB has responded by forming partnerships to strengthen their premium offerings. August Busch IV, President and CEO, has often stated the company has a goal of increasing AB’s participation in the premium beer market (Beirne, 2006).
In February, 2006, AB announced that it will be distributing five popular import brands, including Stella Artois and Beck’s, after completing a deal with Belgium-based InBev. In January, 2007, AB announced an alliance with Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar NP to import Czechvar in the US (Janicek, 2007). Alternatives ________________________________________ Clearly Anheuser-Bush is not the only brewer interested in the gathering and analyzing market data. AB chose to build their data mining sector internally from the ground up to become BudNet.
But how does this differ among industry competitors? The second and third largest breweries, Molson Coors and SABMiller, have elected to outsource this data mining to existing marketing research firms who use more traditional methods for gathering data. Molson Coors UK division is a client of Experian, a marketing company focused in the UK. Experian maintains enormous databases of consumer information which is interpreted and specialized for the specific client. They operate credit bureaus which maintain how consumers and businesses are handling their debts.
They also extensively access public records for credit information. Consumer purchase information is collected through large scale surveys distributed in the US and the UK. Additional data is gathered through catalogue retailers where purchases are cross listed with additional consumer information to generate trends and buying patterns. SABMiller selected the international marketing research firm ACNielson to handle their data mining. The firm covers a huge range of products and countries, providing information for demographic information anywhere in the world.
Their primary research comes from innovative technologies such as in-home scanning tools where selected panel members scan UPC codes of products they purchase then upload this information to ACNielson. They also use simple purchase diaries are also used to record consumer interests. Advantages of Coors and SAB Miller approach: •Outsourced firms are already established have developed methodologies •Frees up internal resources •Experts are available to provide data acquisition, analysis and consulting •Ability to hire firms specialized for specific countries
Disadvantages of Coors and SAB Miller approach: •No control of data •Lack of customization or fine-grain detail in information •Data is not captured timely, sometimes the result of weeks or months of research •No benefit to wholesalers and distributors Recommendation ________________________________________ Lou Mazzola, sales analyst for AB Sales Company of Denver, explained that BudNet provides a reciprocal benefit for both AB and the distributor (personal communication, February 1, 2007).
AB benefits from aggregating the data of all distributors, while the distributor benefits from comprehensive real-time reporting extrapolated from their own raw data. When an anomaly is recognized, an investigation of the cause is immediately initiated. Real-time reporting enables immediate response to competitive threats or changes in the environment. After much analysis, it is recommended that AB continue to use its data network, including BudNET, to improve its information gathering and sharing.
The organization’s new way of thinking and high tech approach is far ahead of its competitors. The results speak for themselves. Although no specific change in strategy is recommended, there are a few key things that are imperative to maintain their success. Continued emphasis on high quality training standards and continued effort to add other sources of data to link to their robust network.
ACNielson- What We Do (n. d. ). Retrieved February 1, 2007 from http://www2. acnielsen. com/company/what. html Beirne, M. (2006). Pouring It On: A-B Adds Five Import Brands. Brandweek. December 1, 2006. Retrieved January 31, 2007 from http://www. brandweek. com/bw/news/recent_display. jsp? vnu_content_id=1003466920 Experian- Principal Activities (n. d. ). Retrieved February 1, 2007 from http://www. experiangroup. com/corporate/about/activities/#cs Janicek, K. (2007). Anheuser-Busch to import beer to U. S. BusinessWeek. January 8, 2007. Retrieved February 1, 2006 from http://www. businessweek. com/ap/financialnews/D8MH7BMO0. htm Lee, T. (2003, July 23).
Michelob Ultra’s Success Stirs Competition among Low-Carbohydrate Beers. Retrieved February 1, 2007 from St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Michelob ULTRA Goes for Gold. (2005, May 17). Retrieved February 1, 2007 from PR Newswire. PRNewswire- FirstCall- Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. (2007, February 1). Retrieved February 3, 2007 from www. anheuser-busch. com World’s 10 Largest Beer Markets- 2004 (n. d. ) Retrieved February 1, 2007 from http://www. anheuser-busch. com/press_room/mediakits/PressKitComplete. pdf Article or site name/ heading (n. d. ) Retrieved date from www. anheuser-busch. com