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AB InBev bets on e-commerce to drive craft beer sales

AB InBev is piloting a craft beer e-commerce platform as it looks to find new ways to attract consumers that sit outside traditional marketing and advertising efforts.

The brewing giant has already tested the e-commerce waters after it piloted an e-commerce app called Bud Light Button last January to allow drinkers cases of beer delivered to their doors within an hour of pressing the button.

The new push – being tested in Mexico, Brazil and Canada - comes as AB InBev and other FMCG giants continue to look at ways of reaching beer drinkers who are turning to craft over traditional flagship brands such as Budweiser. In an earnings release today (25 February) AB InBev said the pilot is one of a number of “bets” its recently formed ‘Disruptive Growth’ team has identified which the brewer said could eventually “become game-changers in the years ahead”. The team is looking at digital solutions and how packaging can enhance consumer experience.

E-commerce is an interesting space for FMCG brands. Pernod Ricard has previously revealed that it is in discussion with e-commerce partners to bolster its existing nascent ties with Amazon alongside partnerships with retailers such as Tesco and Asda. While the maker of Absolut and Chivas currently has two of its own standalone e-commerce platforms – Sipstor and Bar Premium – it believes working with partners will stimulate sales growth and help it own the drinks e-commerce sector.

Similarly, Heineken is also playing in the space. Two and half years ago it launched its home beer dispenser, dubbed t heSub, as a tentative step into creating a direct e-commerce stream for its beers such as Desperados and Birra Moretti. However, the brewer has been relatively shy about marketing it, despite its potential to create a steady flow of sales as home beer drinkers sip through its contents.

Speaking late last year AB InBev chief executive Carlos Brito, said the e-commerce push comes as it looks to increase its focus on providing convenience to consumers, with mobile representing a “huge opportunity” in this area.

“If you talk to some of today’s most successful start-ups, they will tell you that the biggest business opportunities lie in solving consumer problems or ‘pain points’. One of these pain points around beer is getting the product from retail outlets to the consumer as quickly as possible. People, homes and venues are now connected all the time. This allows us to dream about using real time data to fill our fridges before we even realize that they are running low on Budweiser.”