AB InBev quenches thirst for data with tech acquisitions

AB InBev quenches thirst for data with tech acquisitions
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Beer will become data to AB InBev: the world’s largest beer brewery group is acquiring companies to gain insights into big data. The group wants to know everything about beer drinkers and their habits in order to keep growing.


Weissbeerger turns drinks into data

Similar to pretty much every other multinational, AB InBevv is now focused on data. It acquired brewery group Weissbeerger only last week, a company that installs measuring equipment in bars. Its slogan, “turning drinks into data” helps AB InBev to measure how much beer is sold where and when, which flavours are popular to which type of customers at a particular bar. 


“Thanks to Weissbeerger, we can better support our hospitality industry partners and we can tap into the evolving consumer needs even better”, spokesperson Peter Dercon told De Tijd. Data is power and the beer manufacturer fully understands that, especially in a saturated market where consumers are looking for new alternatives, like craft beers.


AB InBev also bought beer web shop Hopt.be in 2016, granting it access to beer lovers’ online purchase behaviour. The beer giant has similar web shops in France and the United Kingdom for instance. It even has a minority stake in RateBeer, one of the largest beer-reviewing websites.


Data and innovation lab ZX Ventures

It will merge all of these data companies in ZX Ventures, its very own innovation lab. “ZX Ventures has access to AB InBev’s research and technology and also collaborates with startups”, Decron says. “We are researching the opportunities that may arise outside of our traditional domains.”


E-commerce director Guilherme Lebelson immediately clarifies its goals: “Our customer data and e-commerce experiences are crucial for our growing company. We can continuously improve our products, because data gives us an insight into which product type the consumer actually wants.”


The enormous amount of data allows the company to do in-house market research, which is essential considering the beer giant faces increased competition in the saturated Western markets. Craft beers and so-called “craft brewers” (artisan brewers who innovate rapidly and radically) are its new competitors.


Competition from artisan breweries

That is also why AB InBev’s smaller craft beer breweries are also part of ZX Ventures: one of the recent dozen acquisitions is Tripel Karmeliet and Kwak’s brewery. Smart data usage actually allows AB InBev to innovate faster: it can quickly spot trends, like through RateBeer, or trial products in its beer web shops and find the ideal launch locations thanks to Weissbeerger.


“It makes full sense for AB InBev to focus on data. Every major company does it. Tech companies like Google and Microsoft are as large as they are because of it and an increasing number of traditional companies are now also focused on data. It is the ideal way to gain insights and to enter new markets or grow in saturated markets”, UGent professor Erik Mannens told De Tijd.