Pub Talk

Global Brewers’ Strategy

To say that beer is experiencing a transition period sounds almost like an euphemism. Beer markets are becoming extremely difficult to read due to their increasing fragmentation. Global brewers feel the threat and the need to react.

Global Brewers’ Strategy

Yet, their war is a particularly hard one to fight. They know that their enemy is ‘craft beer’, yet no one knows what that term actually means, as there is no global agreement. When you don’t know who your enemy is, fighting your war gets a bit more complicated.

Within such a confusing landscape global brewers feel disorientated. Despite a promising growth in developing economies, the loss of market share in Europe and North America is far from reassuring. Global brewers are seriously struggling to tackle the issue.


They used to buy smaller competitors and, in most cases, kill their brands immediately afterwards. Such a strategy has become obsolete. In order to have a presence in the craft beer segment, global brewer’s current strategy is to ‘innovate’ their offer. This might be achieved by:

  1. Buying prosperous craft breweries and let them operate under their original name;

  2. Turning former premium regional brands into stereotyped craft(ish) ones;

  3. Applying science to brewing and experimenting on yeasts.

I don’t think many of you really need examples for the option number one. However, in case you do, just think of all the recent AB-Inbev acquisitions in the US (too many to list), UK (Camden Town) and even Italy (Birra del Borgo).

As far as the second option is concerned, click here to find a few pictures that summarise what Heineken did with its regional brands over the the past few years. The focus is on: craft(ish) packaging, popular craft beer styles, and often a stem glass to replace old fashioned pint/pilsner glasses. Oh, and also read the rest of the article.


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