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American beer market is getting a potentially loaded, $2B investment

(BUSINESS NEWS) Budweiser is making a HUGE investment in the American beer market but, it’s not without challenge.

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Local brews

Budweiser recently announced a four-year, $2 billion dollar investment in the American beer market. For American workers and the national economy, this is quite the welcome gift. However, plenty of local breweries are watching this with fear in their eyes.

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In the details of this investment announcement, we can see a subtle, yet assertive expansion of Budweiser’s strategy to wrangle the craft beer market.

Budweiser is wedging its foot in the door

Of that investment, $54 million will be invested in expanding three other production facilities, with a goal to prepare those facilities to brew multiple types of beer across their entire portfolio of domestic, import and craft beer products. The investments will supposedly prepare their breweries and warehouses for a more fragmented industry.

That $54 million is a large part of a total $146 million to be invested in building and upgrading production and distribution infrastructure.

That still several hundreds of millions of dollars on the table for other investment activities, such as acquisitions. Since 2011, AB InBev has bought out ten large craft breweries and organized them under their High End division. It seems likely that with that much cash available and the upgrading of operations to better brew a wider variety of products, AB InBev will double down on its acquisition of craft breweries.

The reasons why seem obvious

Craft beer’s growth continues to hit double-digit numbers, and that growth is eating into Budweiser’s market share. Buying existing breweries keeps them engaged in a growing marketplace.

However, AB InBev’s actions and words are evidence to an anti-craft beer agenda.

And yet, the purchasing of craft breweries by this conglomerate feeds into that strategy.

Corporations of that size must specialize in supply control, and specialty ingredients for craft beer can be hard to come by. That’s why AB InBev just bought entire reserves of hops from an upstart hop farm in South Africa, strictly for their craft brewers.

That kind of buying power is nearly-impossible to match if you’re an independent brewery.

Second, Budweiser has a history of leveraging dubious (and occasionally illegal) marketing and distribution tactics to muscle competing microbrews off retail shelves and tap walls. In fact, budweiser is currently due to stand trial for doing just that in Massachusetts. And reportedly, they’re getting away with even more egregious violations in the Chinese beer market. They wouldn’t have as much success in these bullying tactics without a craft brand to pedal.

Finally, Budweiser will likely play a long game to cut costs of these craft brews, thanks to its operational optimization. Craft beer has skewed price perceptions in favor of more expensive beers, which makes Budweiser’s cheap lagers look less valuable. That’s a huge loss of brand equity, and AB InBev would rather undercut its other businesses than take a loss on a multi-billion-dollar heritage brand. Closing the price gap between craft and Budweiser, while preserving a positive association of the craft brands they own, is their most likely path forward to accomplish that goal.

Always something else

While funding two beer blogs is one way to preserve that positive association, throwing a lot of money around to create and preserve American jobs doesn’t hurt either. As is usually the case with large corporations, there’s always another reason lying just below the surface.

#ABInBev

Born in Boston and raised in California, Connor arrived in Texas for college and was (lovingly) ensnared by southern hospitality and copious helpings of queso. As an SEO professional, he lives and breathes online marketing and its impact on businesses. His loves include disc-related sports, a pint of a top-notch craft beer, historical non-fiction novels, and Austin's live music scene.

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Business News

Sneak peek at what Gen Z wants from employers

(BUSINESS) Gen Z is up and coming in the workforce. Grab their attention and keep them on board with these tips for employers.

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If I had been born one Olympic Games cycle later, I could include myself in Gen Z. Alas, I’m classified as a Millennial, and now that Gen Z is growing up, marketers and businesses are after this fresher generation’s attention.

While there’s no exact start and end date to who counts as Gen Z, demographers and statisticians generally consider this generation as people born between the mid 1990s and mid 2000s.

Also referred to as Post-Millennials, Gen Z is defined by kids who grew up using the internet at a young age, and are comfortable with social media and technology.

Now that the older end of Gen Z is preparing to graduate college, a new demographic is entering the workforce. Employers who were previously scrambling to attract Millennials are now after the freshest crop of recruits.

Bazaarvoice, a social strategy company that connects brands to consumers, weighs in on what Gen Z is looking for when it comes to employment. 73% of their workforce are Millennials, so Bazaarvoice clearly knows how to attract and retain young talent.

Based on their research and experiences, Bazaarvoice dug into what Gen Z wants from companies, and how businesses can work to reach this upcoming group.

Like Millennials, Gen Z are considered digital natives, aka people who were raised using technology rather than acquiring familiarity at an older age. However, this doesn’t mean Gen Z wants the same thing as Millennials in a career.

Gen Z kids grew up during a time of social progress, and tend to value inclusion for all demographics. Equal marriage rights, electing a black president, and more vocal religious diversity were not historical moments for this generation, but rather a normal part of life.

This is the most diverse generation to date, and they expect to see this reflected in their workplace. A commitment to diversity as well as clearly established company values will draw in this new batch of employees.

Companies should consider providing initiatives like matching charitable donations, paid time off for volunteer days, or even volunteer opportunities directly through work. According to Bazaarvoice, “equality is non-negotiable” for Gen Z.

Employers should ensure their hiring practices bring diverse candidates to the recruitment pool with “blind” screening, no gender pay gaps, and a welcoming workplace that celebrates diverse identities.

And make sure to really stick with and clearly communicate these initiatives and values, because Gen Z will certainly put in the research. Expect your Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, and social media pages to be thoroughly analyzed by this tech-savvy generation. Any indiscretion will be noted.

Your employer brand must be consistent across the board to provide honest expectations to a generation wary of hollow advertisements. Including current employee stories in your promotions aids authenticity since this group prefers recommendations from people, not ads.

Once you’ve got Gen Z’s attention with your company values, you have to match their ambition as well.

Gen Z isn’t going to settle for some low pay, crap benefits position. Since a significant portion owes on student loans for education they’ve acquired to work for you, they’ll hope to be fairly compensated with a competitive salary and decent benefits.

This generation grew up with social media influencers and young CEOs rising to fame, so they’re quite independent and motivated. Gen Zers don’t want to feel like part of the machine, they want to make a real impact even at an entry-level position.

Offer chances for autonomy, personal growth, and continued education to appeal to this incredibly motivated group. Gen Z makes up around a quarter of the population, and employers who put in the effort to reach this group will benefit as more Gen Zers enter the workforce.

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Business News

How to level the gender playing field in tech (and other industries)

(BUSINESS NEWS) One job search site has a reasonable answer to solving the gender gap problem in today’s workforce, and others should take note.

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As an employer, you should be screening employees based on qualifications and preferences, not a candidate’s gender. This seems obvious, but even the most well-meaning employers and recruiters are subject to the curse of implicit bias.

Implicit bias comes into play when unconscious attitudes or stereotypes about someone’s gender, sex, race, ethnicity, age, religion or other identifying features are used to judge that individual’s competency. This is different from known biases, where a person is aware of any stereotypes they may believe, but may choose to not disclose their views.

Major universities including Harvard and Yale teamed up to create Project Implicit, a series of implicit-association tests (IAT) to detect implicit bias through a series of quick associations. Their popular Gender-Career IAT “often reveals a relative link between family and females and between career and males.”

The test has users pair pre-established names of men and women with family and career words. Test takers are prompted in one round to quickly match pre-categorized masculine names with words typically associated with family, while the next may have users pair feminine names with career words.

Based on hesitation and accuracy, users get an interpretation of their potential implicit biases. This comes into play with employee screening, where something as simple as seeing a name on a resume can influence an employer, even in the absence of known biases.

In a Skidmore University study, social psychologist Corrine Moss-Racusin created two identical, fictitious resumes for a lab manager position. The resumes only differed in name, with one fake applicant named Jennifer, the other John.

Different versions were sent out to STEM professors across the country for evaluation. Overall, the “Jennifer” resume received less interest, and was recommended a salary that was on average $4000 less than the identical “John” resume.

Implicit gendered bias was even present in women scientists who participated in reviewing the resumes. In the STEM field, women are underrepresented. Especially in tech, men are disproportionally hired over women.

So what can be done to level the playing field for gender when even a name could make employers think women candidates are less qualified?

Stop looking at names when initially researching a candidate. Okay, I know this is easier said than done and isn’t feasible if you’re screening through normal process of resume submission and in-person hiring events.

But if you use an online source, more platforms are offering solutions for fairer hiring practices that allow you to blind screen employees during initial rounds.

For example, job search site Woo offers anonymity for prospective employees, only revealing a candidate’s name and profile with their permission. During the initial pairing process, skills and background are shared, but other details are not available.

When setting up a talent profile, potential employees fill out a wish list, telling Woo about ideal opportunities, like higher salary, company culture, or desire to work with new technology. Likewise, employers set up their profile to reflect what their different positions can offer.

Using an AI algorithm, Woo calibrates employer with employee preferences to make relevant offers. During this step, user’s identities are hidden until they find an opportunity that matches preferences and actively choose to share their expanded profile with that company.

Woo even adjusts education and work history “so that it’s completely generic and less personal” to provide further identity cloaking. (Bonus: if you’re job hunting on the DL, Woo won’t pair you with current or past employers.)

This means employers can’t apply implicit or explicit bias based on name or profile information that may reveal personal details like gender or race.

Once a user chooses to share this information, employers are free to Google and social media hunt the prospective employee to their heart’s content.

Until then, talent benefits from being seen solely for their skills and experience. This can help level the playing field, especially in the tech industry, which is notoriously skewed towards hiring men.

Major companies like Lyft, Wix, and Microsft are already using Woo, and the service is available to employees in the United States and Israel.

Other job sites should consider scrubbing personal details like gender and name for initial searches and matches when showing results to employers. This can help eliminate bias based on gender and other personal factors.

If you’re seeking a job, you can use Woo for free. Employers can submit info to get contacted by Woo about joining up and staring a better, bias free recruitment process.

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Business News

As soda sales slump, companies consider crazy coffee

(BUSINESS NEWS) Retail trends continue to shift as new generations demand innovation – soda sales are slumping and brands are looking to coffee as the answer.

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Since the 1950s, beverage companies have been concerned with the shift of market share from soda to coffee in terms of breakfast and afternoon drink staples. Well now, that fortune has been reversed. According to analysis by the Washington Post, coffee may once again trump the caffeinated drink market, leaving soda manufacturers to question what may come next, while planning a strategy to enter the playing field.

The slump in soda sales are causing some beverage manufacturers and parent companies looking to merge or acquire others in order to hook the consumer throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Considering that in late 2017, Coca-Cola acquired hipster sparkling water favorite Topo Chico, other companies are falling in line to make sure that their reach goes beyond the high fructose corn syrup.

The secretive JAB Holdings, the German parent company of Panera Bread, Keurig, and Stumptown Coffee Roasters, acquired Dr Pepper and Snapple, making this 40+ drink brand company a bigger player than ever in the search for “the new soda.”

So what is going to be the “new soda”? One answer companies may have is the coffee beverages that are certainly similar to their current soda line-up. Outside of Pepsi and Coca Cola, bottling ready-made java drinks on behalf of Starbucks and Pepsi, some brands are really leaning into “soda, but not” for their coffee beverages.

The 2017 National Coffee Drinking Trends Report predicted four of the big trendy brands that soda is up against: regular cold brew, sparkling cold brew, nitro joe on draft, and ready-to-drink coffee products. Stumptown Roasters, underneath the Dr Pepper and Keurig mega brand umbrella, has been producing sparkling cold brew since early 2017, which seems unlikely to change in light of these market trends.

The morning mud appears to be an American drink pastime that isn’t going away, with the millennial and Gen Z market wanting exciting coffee innovations to keep their interest and cash loyalty. Soda companies, in this day and age, are struggling to balance their brand portfolio to make sure that dollar keeps flowing, just like their beverages.

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