How ZX Ventures Sees the World
by Jim Watson
The entire consumer landscape has changed right beneath AB InBev’s feet – drinkers are looking for something that mainstream light lagers aren’t offering, and are not responding to tried and true marketing messages. In May, the Economist published an article titled, ‘Brewers at AB InBev Need to Rethink Its Strategy,’ warning that there is “trouble brewing” for the world’s largest beer maker – opining it could no longer rely on major acquisitions and cost-cutting.
But the thought that ABI is still completely reliant on deals and cost cutting overlooks the incredible work being done at ZX Ventures. ZX was created in 2015 to focus on “Innovation, investment and incubation” and develop a wide portfolio of new brands, and often in new categories.
Most of the industry thinks of ZX as a corporate venture fund, but that barely scratches the surface of what they do. They have amassed an impressive and far-reaching portfolio that includes Swish Beverages (AKA Babe Wine), Hiball Energy, Rate Beer, Beer Hawk and Tripel Karmeliet among many others.
“We are the team that thinks about where beer consumers are going, the new categories that change the way people engage with beer and then what are the new, exciting business models that are being developed.” – Liz Tomic, ZX Ventures
While it is their acquisitions that make that hit the industry press, in reality, the 1500-person team at ZX is responsible for everything from brand experience and e-commerce to technology and international craft.
It’s more important than ever for global leaders to rethink the entire process behind understanding new categories and innovating with new brands, in order to create a culture of continuous innovation. As cost-cutting becomes less relevant to driving bottom-line growth, internal R&D will need to pick up some of the slack. ZX makes a powerful case for tackling at least some of this challenge outside the bounds of the parent company.
Click on Images (below) To Learn How ZX Ventures Drives Innovation For The World’s Largest Brewer
We had the rare opportunity to catch up the team at ZX and record two episodes for our podcast, Liquid Assets. In the first episode, Liz Tomic, Global Director of ZX Ventures’ Explore Fund, explains how ZX operates, her team’s investment strategy, and how they strike a balance between independence and accountability while driving growth and innovation at the world’s largest beer company.
In the second episode, Liz is joined by Garrett Bredenkamp, CEO of Kombrewcha – the world’s first hard kombucha – to explain what it is like for a start-up and large strategic to join forces and improve their product, their message and scale their business, all while maintaining the entrepreneurial spirit along the way.
If you have any questions about the podcast or our research, please get in touch: James.Watson@rabobank.com. You can also find the latest reports and episodes on our website. check it out!