USA: Anheuser Busch restructures distribution, sales and marketing

AB InBev reacted to its ailing performance in the United States and announced today a major restructuring of distribution, sales and marketing of its US subsidiary Anheuser-Busch. Michel Doukeris, CEO, Anheuser-Busch calls it an “evolution of our commercial structure” and has appointed Benoit Garbe as new Chief Strategy Officer. The Harvard graduate and brand expert joined AB this month after working several years as a brand manager for luxury goods company LVMH and spirits company Diageo followed by several roles in consultancy in New York and Shanghai.

By further regionalizing the company’s approach to sales, marketing and distribution, Anheuser-Busch hopes to be better positioned to win in key regional markets and “to accelerate our commercial momentum by positioning our teams even closer to the customers and consumers who are the lifeblood of our business.”

“Over the past three years, our entire system has risen to meet challenges and ensure that we can better capitalize on current and future opportunities and optimize our business in the years ahead,” said Doukeris.

AB’s “holistic approach” is based on changes in the three sectors distribution, sales and marketing.


1. Distribution

Anheuser-Busch will change the way how the company leads and manages their Wholly-Owned Distributors (WODs) with the creation of the Anheuser-Busch Sales & Distribution Co. (ABSD) – a network of A-B-owned wholesalers. The combined ABSD organization will report into Elito Siqueira, US Chief Supply Chain Officer, with a dotted line into Brendan Whitworth, US Chief Sales Officer.  Simon Wuestenberg, currently Regional Vice-President, will directly lead the new organization as President, ABSD.

“With the creation of the Anheuser-Busch Sales & Distribution Company, we are driving a cohesive approach and total business ownership, ultimately opening an exciting path to sustainable top and bottom-line growth,” said Siqueira. “By integrating our A-B-owned wholesaler sales and logistics teams under unified leadership, we will strengthen our talent pipeline and further improve our customer centricity.”

Anheuser-Busch’s WODs enable the company to be close to the consumer and directly detect new patterns at the point of purchase every day.  WODs also allow Anheuser-Busch to pilot new consumer propositions, technology, and route-to-market approaches, and then scale those best practices to their wholesaler system.

“We have long prided ourselves on being a reliable and valuable partner to our independent wholesalers and retailers,” said Bob Tallett, VP, Business and Wholesaler Development, Anheuser-Busch. “We believe the A-B Sales & Distribution Co. will make us an even better partner to our wholesalers because we will be able to be better connected to their operational realities, leverage our scale, and develop new capabilities that will benefit our entire system.”


2. Sales

Anheuser-Busch is also making some important changes to the regional sales structure to better serve their partners and to create greater synergies within their own organization. The company will streamline its regional operations to 6 regions in the US, creating regions which are roughly equal in volume and revenue responsibility.

“Anheuser-Busch’s overarching strategy continues to center on prioritizing our consumers – that is our retailers, wholesalers, and consumers – and structuring the organization for long-term, sustainable success,” said Whitworth. “By investing in our powerful sales organization and regionalizing our system to be closer to our customers and consumers, we are bringing an important focus on execution for our internal sales team, independent wholesaler partners and our owned distribution operations through the Anheuser-Busch Sales & Distribution Company.”


3. Marketing

Earlier this year, the company shared that they would be opening five new regional offices for draftLine, A-B’s internal creative agency. These new offices present a bigger opportunity and a chance for Anheuser-Busch to take bolder action that will allow their marketing teams to get even closer to consumers.

With that, the company is evolving its marketing organization - not just draftLine - by adopting a Regional Hub structure with A-B marketing offices located in NYC, Los Angeles, Miami, Austin and St. Louis beginning in 2021. These regional hubs will be home to multifunctional teams that will inform strategies both locally and nationally.

“Our commercial strategy is centered around our consumers, and the closer we get to our consumers, the more success we’ll have,” said Marcel Marcondes, US Chief Marketing Officer, Anheuser-Busch. “With a country as large and diverse as the U.S., getting closer to consumers means understanding them on a local level.​ This evolution of our marketing organization presents an exciting opportunity for our people – for leadership, for new experiences, and for even better commercial integration. It is also part of our evolution as a progressive, consumer-centric company that is adapting to the new reality.”

With these changes across distribution, sales and marketing, Anheuser-Busch is investing in its own words in a regionalized approach to business, creating new opportunities for their people, building stronger connections throughout their communities, and positioning their teams to ignite the ability to lead future growth, today not tomorrow.

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