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AB InBev to smarten beer

By Ren Xiaojin | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-19 07:42

World's biggest brewer plans to offer consumers healthier product

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, the world's biggest brewer, plans to introduce more healthier products in China, said its head for Asia-Pacific on Friday.

The move will see the launch of alcohol-free drinks, low-calorie brands and low-carbon beverages in China.

It is aimed at exploiting the trend among newly affluent middle-class consumers, particularly the millennials, or those born during the 1980s and 1990s, to upgrade to better products.

 AB InBev to smarten beer

An employee pours non-alcohol beer at Budweiser STORM Music Festival in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. Provided to China Daily

"We want to give options to consumers of alcoholic beverages. We want to make them conscious that they have smart drinking options," said Jean Jereissati, president of the company's Asia-Pacific North region.

In addition to smart drinks, AB InBev is intensifying its 10-year-old campaign to advocate no-drink driving or "smart drinking".

The idea is to make moderate behavior a social norm by turning the spotlight from making consumers aware to encouraging consumers to behave responsibly.

So, responsible consumers who drink healthy beverages containing moderate levels of alcohol will be designated fit for driving.

AB InBev has roped in Eason Chan, a Chinese celebrity actor, to endorse its campaign, which is said to be helping beverage consumers to make smart choices.

"We are going to invest $1 billion till 2025 to raise awareness and change consumer behavior not only in China but across the world," said Jereissati.

"Our goal is that 20 percent of our beverages should have either low alcohol content or no alcohol by 2025, and we want 20 percent of our sales to come from drinks with low alcohol content.

"We want to bring more products such as craft beer, low-calorie drinks and alcohol-free drinks to middle-class Chinese consumers. We will also bring more niche beer varieties to China."

In the second quarter of this year, AB InBev's revenue grew 7 percent year-on-year on the back of efficient management and 1 percent volume growth.

In the first half, revenue grew 9 percent year-on-year with revenue per hectoliter up 6.2 percent and volume growth up 2.7 percent.

Wu Xiaobo, a well-regarded financial columnist, said: "The company is paying more attention to personal health, and emphasizing different consumption behavior.

The new middle class are driving the consumption upgrade, and more willing to pay for quality and service."

Market commentators said most of the target consumers of beverage companies are born in the age of internet, hence more willing to use online shopping portals such as Taobao and JD.

Jereissati said AB InBev will focus on its online platform as well. E-commerce is a big part of the company's strategy. Everything it does now has a digital dimension, he said.

AB InBev has invested more than $3 billion in China since 1995, and has over 26,000 employees in the country.

renxiaojin@chinadaily.com.cn

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