Ref: IMD-7-2323

Case study

Reference: IMD-7-2323

Order this case study

AB InBev: Still the King of Beers After Its Legendary CEO's Departure?

Niccolò Pisani

By Professor Niccolò PisaniNiccolò Pisani and Inès Augier

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?

Learning Objective

  • 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
Keywords COVID-19, Crisis Management, Digital, Digital Disruption, Innovation, Pandemic, Strategy
Settings Global, Belgium, United States of America
Type Published Sources
Copyright ©IMD 2021
Language English
Related material Teaching note
Order this case study

Reference: IMD-7-2323

IMD case studies are distributed through case clearing houses. In order to browse the collection and purchase copies please visit the links below.

The Case Centre, UK Office

Cranfield University

Wharley End Beds MK43 0JR, UK
Tel +44 (0)1234 750903
Fax +44 (0)1234 751125
Email [email protected]

The Case Centre, US office

Babson College

Babson Park, Wellesley MA 02457, USA
Tel +1 781 239 5884
Fax +1 781 239 5885
Email [email protected]

Harvard Business School Publishing

60 Harvard Way, Boston MA 02163, USA
Tel (800) 545-7685 Tel (617)-783-7600
Fax (617) 783-7666
Email [email protected]

Asia Pacific Case Center

NUCB Business School

1-3-1 Nishiki Naka
Nagoya Aichi, Japan 460-0003
Tel +81 52 20 38 111
Email [email protected]

Copyright information

IMD retains all proprietary interests in its case studies and notes. Without prior written permission, IMD cases and notes may not be reproduced, used, translated, included in books or other publications, distributed in any form or by any means, stored in a database or in other retrieval systems. For additional copyright information related to case studies, please contact Case Services.


Research Information & Knowledge Hub for additional information on IMD publications

Keep reading