A corporate strategy article by Thunderbird students Joel Baughman, Srinivas Chundi, Mikhail Kholyavko, Chintan Patel and Chris Vadner
There are striking similarities between the colonial powers of past and contemporary beer conglomerates. For years, there has been an uneasy quiet in the world beer markets as brewers have carved out territories and regions for themselves, often finding themselves in close proximity with competitors. Until now, they have appeared reluctant to disturb the status quo and encroach on competitors’ turf in pursuit of increased market share. Nevertheless, consolidation has accelerated in recent years, leading to high industry concentration. The growth in demand for beer in emerging markets, coupled with saturation and stagnation in developed markets, promises to unsettle this uneasy calm and force brewers to rethink their strategy. As these large conglomerates come under increasing pressure from restless investors looking for revenue and profit growth, any gentleman’s agreement that might exist is less likely to be honored in the future. Major players are poised to engage in full-blown competitive conflict in order to conquer new markets.