Georgetown University Case Study Analysis: How the World’s Largest Beer Company Contributes to the Reduction of Harmful Alcohol Use

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Business for Impact analyzes the efforts of Anheuser-Busch InBev to promote Smart Drinking

The Business for Impact initiative at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business released an in-depth case study today on the current status of Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev)’s Global Smart Drinking Goals (GSDGs). This is a ten-year voluntary initiative by the leading brewer to reduce harmful use of alcohol. The GSDGs began in 2015 and will run until 2025.  The report is an assessment of AB InBev’s progress during the first five years. 

Within the report, titled AB InBev and Smart Drinking: An Analysis of How the World’s Largest Beer Company Contributes to the Reduction of Harmful Alcohol Use, Georgetown recognizes AB InBev as an industry leader for its pioneering efforts to promote “Smart Drinking” through investments in excess of a quarter-billion dollars since 2015. 

The findings suggest that businesses can play a role in addressing global social challenges, when there is commitment from the top, understanding the need to embed smart drinking into the commercial strategy as recommended by public health experts, and a willingness to go beyond traditional corporate philanthropy to create shared value for both business and society. 

Specifically, AB InBev’s Global Smart Drinking Goals initiative has been successful in bringing together public health and corporate leaders to work collaboratively toward the common goal of reducing harmful drinking. This, in opinion of the Georgetown case study authors, is a first-of-its-kind initiative that holds promise as a model of shared value creation. The case study provides in-depth analysis of AB InBev’s progress toward achieving the GSDGs, highlighting both successes and challenges. 

The report also identifies areas for improvement needed to increase the impact of the GSDGs initiative as it enters its second phase. 

For instance, Georgetown recommends that AB InBev explore additional ways to embed its Smart Drinking proposition in its commercial execution, particularly in relation to social norms marketing.  It also recommends extending its current measurement and evaluation efforts to determine if the results are sustainable in the longer term.    

“As stated by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, solving the world’s most pressing challenges requires the participation of the business community,” said Bill Novelli, founder of Business for Impact at Georgetown University and case study co-author. “AB InBev’s approach is unique in that both the commercial and philanthropic sides of the business are engaged in achieving the goals – from diversifying products to include no- and lower-alcohol choices, to leveraging the corporate brands to promote social marketing messages geared to change problem behaviors and shift societal attitudes so that ‘smart drinking’ is the norm.”

John Blood, Chief Legal and Corporate Affairs Officer of AB InBev noted, “We are encouraged that our GSDGs are on the right track and there is more that we can do. The recommendations of the Georgetown case study will help us have an even more impactful Smart Drinking program around the globe.  Our business depends upon the communities we serve, and reducing harmful drinking is an integral part of our company’s future. We are grateful to the Georgetown team for their comprehensive and insightful work.”

For the executive summary, please click here.

About Georgetown Business for Impact 
Business for Impact at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business unleashes the power of the private sector to help people and the planet thrive. Business for Impact strives to help solve today’s pressing problems through delivering world-class education, impactful student experience, and direct action with corporations, nonprofits, and government. Our aspiration is that Georgetown-educated leaders will be renowned for managing the triple bottom line – people, planet, and profit. Learn more about Business for Impact.

About Anheuser-Busch InBev
Anheuser-Busch InBev is a publicly traded company (Euronext: ABI) based in Leuven, Belgium, with secondary listings on the Mexico (MEXBOL: ANB) and South Africa (JSE: ANH) stock exchanges and with American Depositary Receipts on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: BUD). Our Dream is to bring people together for a better world. Beer, the original social network, has been bringing people together for thousands of years. We are committed to building great brands that stand the test of time and to brewing the best beers using the finest natural ingredients. Our diverse portfolio of well over 500 beer brands includes global brands Budweiser®, Corona® and Stella Artois®; multi-country brands Beck’s®, Hoegaarden®, Leffe® and Michelob ULTRA®; and local champions such as Aguila®, Antarctica®, Bud Light®, Brahma®, Cass®, Castle®, Castle Lite®, Cristal®, Harbin®, Jupiler®, Modelo Especial®, Quilmes®, Victoria®, Sedrin®, and Skol®. Our brewing heritage dates back more than 600 years, spanning continents and generations. From our European roots at the Den Hoorn brewery in Leuven, Belgium. To the pioneering spirit of the Anheuser & Co brewery in St. Louis, US. To the creation of the Castle Brewery in South Africa during the Johannesburg gold rush. To Bohemia, the first brewery in Brazil. Geographically diversified with a balanced exposure to developed and developing markets, we leverage the collective strengths of approximately 164 000 colleagues based in nearly 50 countries worldwide. For 2020, AB InBev’s reported revenue was 46.9 billion USD (excluding JVs and associates).