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Anheuser-Busch's global chief marketing officer reveals how its $1 billion innovation unit ZX Ventures is helping the company weather the coronavirus

 

Pedro Earp_March2018

  • Anheuser-Busch InBev has taken a page from its innovation hub ZX Venture to respond to the coronavirus, its global chief marketing officer and head of ZX Ventures Pedro Earp said. 
  • The company's response has centered on three major trends: People spending more time cooking, using in-home entertainment, and socializing in smaller groups, Earp said.
  • It's also seen a "pretty significant acceleration" of its e-commerce business, Earp said. Last year, ZX  Ventures brought in $1 billion in sales for the company. 
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When Anheuser-Busch InBev created ZX Ventures in 2015, it had hoped that the innovation unit's investments in e-commerce, craft and specialty beers, and retail would eventually contribute to its core business.

Last year, ZX Ventures brought in $1 billion in sales for the company. But its startup mentality has also helped the company adapt in the coronavirus pandemic, said Anheuser-Busch's global chief marketing officer and head of ZX Ventures, Pedro Earp.

"In the startup world, if you don't understand consumers well, don't build solutions that really work and you don't scale fast enough, then you're dead," Earp told Business Insider. "And that's what we're trying to do in our core business as well — having a consumer obsession and the agility to put solutions out there."

How Anheuser-Busch has responded to the coronavirus

When the coronavirus started to spead, Anheuser-Busch announced that it would use its manufacturing lines to produce hand sanitizer.

Since then, with people spending more time cooking, using in-home entertainment, and socializing in smaller groups, the company developed other initiatives including "Open For Takeout" to help bars and restaurants serve customers and the "Circuito Brahma Sertanejos" concert in Brazil that was livestreamed on YouTube.

Its booming e-commerce business is making up for its on-trade business taking a hit 

ZX has grown the company's e-commerce business, selling to 250 million consumers per year and enabling it to collect more data on them. This growth has helped the company make up for its overall business taking a hit due to the spread of the virus, Earp said.

He said Anheuser-Busch's e-commerce business was divided into three buckets: Its e-retailer relationships with the likes of Walmart in the US and Tesco in the UK; the online sales and delivery of its craft beers; and a one-hour beer delivery platform tailored to Latin America. Overall, the company's e-commerce business has seen a significant acceleration amid the crisis, he said.

"We've had disproportionate exposure to [e-commerce] — our market share globally in e-commerce is ahead of the total market share," he said.

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