From 6th millennium BC until forever, Ninkasi (the ancient Summerian goddess of beer) will inspire hymns to her honor. Composed originally with bappir (baked barley bread), malt, honey and dates, the recipe barely changed. If I invoke today the matron of beer it is to turn a historic page in the American fermentation industry.
Traditionally when times come for celebration, beer is synonymous of festivity. As barbecues are part of the anglo-saxon secular heritage, beers and especially Budweiser is an icon of the American culture.
The symbol of the American Brewery, the Anheuser-Busch ancestral family based in St Louis agreed last Monday to pass the scepter to Belgium renowned quality beer brewer, Stella-Artois. Isn’t it reassuring to know that the power stays in the beer circle?
The anger apart, the 25 billion pounds “sale-out” of an American experience to a foreign company consolidates the tendency of the market.
The current picture displays takeovers, mergers achieved by Europeans over the American market. It also reasserts the European supremacy on a worldwide scale. American breweries facing those strategic grand scale maneuvers to protect their products, brands have no solution but to merge as a retaliation move, to strengthen their position on their local market.
What will be Stella-Artois’ tactic?
According to my knowledge, Inbev, the conglomerate behind Stella-Artois has nothing to prove to the beer industry. Being the world’s leading brewer, Inbev is strongly anchored in 12 markets and is present in 130 countries. With a sales volume of 273,9 million of hectoliters, it realized 14,4 billion euro in 2007.
What is its secret then?
If I stick to their brand strategy, Inbev’s objective is to create a long-term relationship with its consumers by meeting their needs. But it’s more than this, it’s a complete cultural immersion. Here is my understanding. Each time Inbev conquered a market either it bought the leader in the field, either it created a brand that corresponded taste wise to the market. As you peruse at their operational zones each market has its original beer, they adapt a product targeting a market or keep the local champions. They reinforce thus the established consumers and their positioning. The incorporation of any brand to Inbev will propel the brand at the top in its local market.
Furthermore, Inbev is a large “multi-country brands”.? Not only does Stella-Artois represent Inbev but also Skol in Brazil, Beck’s in Germany, Sedrin in China, Alexender Keith’s in Canada… Every beer keeps its personality, authenticity and quality. Why would Budweiser be treated differently?
So what are the chances for Budweiser beer or taste to disappear from the American beer drinkers collective conscious? Won’t it be a glaring mistake to tactically ignore the American pride by sweeping away any trace of their culture…unless it will be for a better quality beer?
And isnt’ it a smooth and refreshing way to conquer a country, to open its choice borders, so far most of the beer imports come from Mexico with 11,997 923 hectoliters. In Inbev Northern America zone, Canada is their bigger consumer, the American market had a “snobbish” protectionist attitude.
Given that quality prevails in Inbev strategic? marketing move why to worry, so far its beers still contain the original recipe ingredients malted barley, hops and yeast, isn’t it the main ingredient for fermentation?