AB InBev Credits Marketing With Driving ‘Highest-Ever’ Volume Sales

CEO Michel Doukeris said the alcoholic drinks giant had stepped up the effectiveness of its creativity through its digital transformation and its in-house creative agency DraftLine.

AB InBev, the brewer behind the Corona, Budweiser and Stella Artois beer brands, has hailed record full year volumes in 2022, as well as the strong performance of its premium portfolio. The business claimed this success was “driven by the investment in [its] marketing capabilities”.

While sales and marketing investment fell in 2022 compared to the year prior, CEO Michel Doukeris told investors today (2 March) the company will continue to invest behind its brands as they “deserve” because their “power” drives growth at the business.

Across the full year, volumes grew by 2.3% to reach an “all-time high”, the company reported. However, the business did see softening towards the end of 2022, with volumes declining 0.6% in its fourth quarter.  This is the first time the business has reported a volume decline since the beginning of the pandemic.

However, price increases more than offset this volume decline, with revenues rising 10.2% year-on-year to $14.47bn (£12.09bn). Across the full year, revenues rose by 11.2% to $57.79bn (£48.28bn).

Despite the inflationary environment in Europe, volumes continued to grow in the last three months by low single digits.

AB InBev invested $6.8bn (£5.7bn) in sales and marketing in 2022, compared to $7.3bn (£6.1bn) the year prior. CEO Michel Doukeris did not provide a figure for anticipated 2023 spend, but pointed out marketing investment has remained around the $7bn (£5.9bn) mark since 2019.

“Our plans are to continue to invest behind these brands,” Doukeris said, claiming the company saw its brand measures across its portfolio reach an all-time high this year.

Effectiveness of spend is as important as level of spend for the company, he said, claiming it has stepped up its effectiveness in its creativity through its digital transformation and its in-house creative agency DraftLine.

Doukeris pointed to AB InBev being named the world’s most effective marketer in the Global Effie Effectiveness Index. He also highlighted the recognition it received for its creativity in 2022, winning 50 Cannes Lions last year.

Approximately 63% of the business’s revenues are now generated through B2B digital platforms. As the company steps up its digital capabilities both in B2B and DTC offerings, it is generating the ability to apply data at scale to its campaigns, Doukeris said.

Premium success

AB InBev reported premium brands now make up over half (55%) of its revenue in Europe.

Premiumisation has been a key focus for AB InBev. These premium brands saw revenue growth in the low-teens across the year. The company highlighted Corona and Stella Artois, which grew their revenues at 18.6% and 11.7%, respectively. In Europe, Corona grew revenues by more than 20%.

The company has also been seeking to broaden its consumer base by focusing on its Beyond Beer segment, as well as through premiumisation. It saw more female consumers buying into its brands during 2022, the business claimed.

It has also been looking to tap into more consumption occasions, such as no and low-alcohol beverages. It launched no-alcohol Corona Cero in Europe last year.

At-home consumption experience is another area it has sought to tap into. The company says its at-home beer tap PerfectDraft now has more machines in homes than there are pubs and bars in the UK and France.


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