AB InBev had been the world’s number one brewer since 2004, a position largely attributed to its aggressive strategy of pursuing large, international mergers and acquisitions. The disruptive events of the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to upend the existing market share distribution, as well as the outlook of the global beer market. Breweries frantically worked to pivot to capture retail sales in supermarkets and online to offset the shutdown of the hospitality sector. Many had suffered furloughs and layoffs; some faced the risk of bankruptcy. Even as lockdown measures began to relax for certain countries, the global economy and the beer industry were beset with uncertainty. In the midst of it all, Michel Doukeris, previously the President of AB InBev’s North America division, took the helm as the beer conglomerate’s new CEO in the summer of 2021. He had big shoes to fill; the reins were handed over by Carlos Brito, the “king of beers” personified, who had served as CEO for 15 years and was credited with transforming the company from a regional giant to a global titan. Doukeris was charged with leading AB InBev through its COVID-19 recovery and beyond. As he transitioned into his new leadership role, he began grappling with difficult and vital questions for his company: Which lasting changes and trends would shape the global beer industry coming out of the COVID-19 crisis? How could AB InBev become future-proof in a post-pandemic world? What would be imperative to defending AB InBev’s status as the world’s number one beer company?
- Understand how the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the global beer industry
- Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a company like AB InBev, as well as the threats and opportunities that can arise from a global crisis
- Explore how macro-trends can influence global markets, as in the beer industry
- Identify risks and opportunities that a global company like AB InBev should consider when developing a winning strategy for the post-pandemic future