Big Changes At A-B InBev

Wow, there’s a lot going over at Anheuser-Busch InBev, and besides the slip in sales of their core brands. Last week, rumors abounded that ABI was planning to roll out some version of 100% Share of Mind, which had been the “unofficial” policy until a few years ago, when it became unworkable. I wrote about it four years ago as it started to wane in Losing Their Share of Mind, and you can get the history and background of the policy there, assuming you’re unfamiliar with it. In a nutshell, A-B insisted that their distributors focus ONLY on A-B and A-B-related brands, and there were ways they had for dealing with those distributors that didn’t toe the line. And it worked well enough while A-B brands were selling well, but when they began to slip, it became harder to enforce and harder for distributors to remain profitable without taking on non-A-B brands, especially craft brands.

According to Beer Business Daily, ABI “is again turning up the leverage with Sales Opportunity Teams starting next week.” Apparently “Sales Opportunity Teams” (SOT) is the new buzzword for it this time around. They continued:

The SOTs, which A-B chief Dave Peacock has repeatedly said are not punitive in nature, will certainly be uncomfortable for distributors with growing competing brands in the house, as they try to explain this or that competing display or tap handle on the floor.

It’s got to be even harder this time, with craft beer riding a wave, with great growth, higher rings and consequently more profits. Sell less, make more. Hard to walk away from that, but of course having the best-selling brands is also pretty attractive, too. So what’s a distributor to do?

Today, the other shoe dropped, as Anheuser-Busch President Dave Peacock — and the last of the pre-InBev top executives — resigned effective today. According to ProBrewer

Peacock was one of the few remaining high-level holdovers who had stayed with the company after it was acquired in 2008 by InBev. He was only one of two non-Busch family members to hold the title of CEO.

Peacock is well liked by wholesalers and is known as reasonable, fair and an advocate for the second tier. The latest pressure on wholesalers by InBevAB may certainly have prompted Peacocks departure.

Peacock began his career at A-B in 1992 and was promoted to president in 2008 in the wake of the acquisition after serving as VP-marketing since late 2007. Many U.S. executives departed after the InBev takeover, but Peacock was handpicked by the new owners to lead the U.S. operation.

Harry Schuhmacher, in his Beer Business Daily, broke the news this morning, calling it “a watershed moment in the history of A-B since its acquisition by InBev.”

Coincidence? Hard to imagine the two developments are completely unrelated, especially since Beer Business Daily, presumably working from a press release, states he’s leaving “to spend more time with his family and pursue other business interests.” I’m always more than a little suspicious when that’s the official reason for leaving, as it so often is in circumstances like this one.

Peacock is succeeded by Luiz Fernando Edmond, who until today was the Zone President of North America. Oh, and Bud Light Platinum is coming soon, in the cobalt blue bottle, and should be on store shelves as early as this week. They’re calling it a “game changer,” but I tend to think these other two developments will change the beer landscape far more than a Bud Light line extension.



  1. says

    Nice to know that craft beer has become so popular it’s making the big guys change things up. Scary to think what they might do in response though.

    Also, what is with BL Platinum? 6% light beer?

  2. JP says

    I love the filtering bit on the six-pack. The thought that filtering it more times is some how best for the product. Like it’s some super-premium vodka or something.

  3. John Ahrens says

    Yumyum….My Beerbuddies and I tried this Bud Light Malt Liquor (?) last week at a tasting in Philly. Luckily we only shared one bottle. This comment says it all: “Tastes just like Bud Light!”
    Me, I’d rather ride with new Natty Daddy…at least you can taste the normal ML sweetness. Also, Triple Filtering is obviously just their marketing attempt to one up Triple Hops.

  4. First Stater says

    When you work for a company that starts using initials for their latest improvement/sales/diversity/anything program it’s time to get out. Been there, done that.

  5. Mr. Nuts says

    My brother was just commenting on the sea change the retail beer business is going through in northeastern Ohio.

    Shelf space previously stuffed full of macro brews now being dedicated to a vast array of craft product. And get this, one chain even installed an automated tasting room — where a quarter gets you a small tasting of a craft beer.

    And this is Ohio, mind you.

  6. trendyness is irritating says

    what’s up with the trendyness? people are fooled, its BUD LIGHT IN A PRETTIER BOTTLE geez. where i come from no one cares what it looks like, we just wanna get drunk. a simple 1.19 steel reserve does the trick, or how bout a 40 oz hurricane? beer is beer when having a good time.

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