The restructure is part of a wider integration of the brewer’s regional commercial division into its global function.
Country managing directors retain oversight of their markets but the commercial team, which includes marketing, innovation and insights, will be tasked with working on projects that can be adapted to other markets. It means best practice marketing guidelines for brands such as Peroni and Pilsner Urquell will be shared between different markets in a more structured way than they are currently.
The change comes just four years after the business went from being structured around specific countries to being regionally focused. SABMiller has been laying the groundwork for the transition since appointing head of enablement Gavin Marshall to establish a global approach to digital in its activity.
Unilever is treading a similar path in its efforts to drive marketing efficiencies. The FMCG business is cutting the number of regional marketers in the hope of shaving costs by creating more global brand concepts and advertising.
Sue Clark, SABMiller’s managing director for Europe told Marketing Week, the restructure will not lead to any cuts to its marketing headcount claiming the discipline is pivotal to future efforts to increase sales.
To that end, the brewer is planning to add to its innovation team in the coming months alongside the recruitment of packaging and digital specialists. SABMiller Europe expects the amount of revenue from “innovation” products to rise by 6 per cent in 2014 from 2 per cent in 2012.
Clark adds: “We see the need to double down on our commercial excellence. Innovation and insights are key areas we want to lift above market. We wouldn’t see any downsize in marketing and maybe [it] becomes more important for us.”
The brewer is hoping the reshuffle around innovation will help it to capitalise on the growing number of consumers choosing to drink at home, which is less profitable for brewers. It is developing lighter beers such as Radlers and non-alcoholic fruit flavoured variants to exploit the shift in drinking habits and appeal to more health conscious drinkers. On-pack innovations and increased promotional support for its cheaper brands are also being prepped.
Separately, SABMiller is working closer with retailers around ecommerce as well as developing marketing programs with the on-trade to “re-establish beer at the heart of the pub and bar experience”.
The brewer admits its efforts to carve out new opportunities in the beer market have been hampered by its focus on “male-orientated” campaigns to date.
Clark adds: “In the past brewing companies – ourselves included – could be accused of alienating women.
“We need to develop campaigns that actually appeal to both sexes and I think getting back to the intrinsic quality of beer is a key part of that. The way we market Peroni as a mixed gender style brand is a great way of doing that while also raising the premium nature of the beer category.”