How Anheuser-Busch Created a ‘Customer-First’ Experience
Anheuser-Busch is the undisputed leader of the U.S. beer industry, and one of America’s most iconic companies. For generations, beer drinkers have enjoyed their great-tasting brews, and the Anheuser-Busch portfolio includes some of the world’s most recognizable beer brands: Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob ULTRA, and Stella Artois. Meanwhile, the company’s 12 regional craft partners provide drinkers with a choice of delicious craft beers. Anheuser-Busch soon realized that running different web stores for each of their brands was too costly and complicated, and not in the interest of consumers. “We were not thinking consumer first,” said John Faviano, the Director of Demand Management and Integrated Marketing Technology for North America at Anheuser-Busch.
“We originally launched a Bud Light shop, an Anheuser-Busch gift shop, a Michelob ULTRA shop, but we were completely overspending from an operational perspective, and there was no consistency,” he added. “There was a lot of duplication of work. Shops were going up, shops were coming down.” Each brand store used a different commerce solution, which was expensive, inconsistent, slow, and hard to manage. So Anheuser-Busch relaunched their stores using Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) and Adobe Commerce Cloud, allowing them to control multiple branded stores on one dashboard.
Shop the experience
“By working with the marketing agency MRM/McCann to implement Magento (part of Adobe Commerce Cloud), we made sure it was integrated into AEM. We built an experience-first approach with shopping hotspots, where customers can add products directly to their cart as they engage with the product and promotional content on the site.” Lifestyle images of models wearing cool Bud Light sweaters and tees soon became clickable, and shoppable. This simplified shopping experience attracted those ‘impulse buy’ customers, and was repeatable across all brands, said Faviano.
The early results were exciting: In a two month period, Anheuser-Busch accomplished more than 25 percent of their annual Bud Light online apparel and merchandise total sales, proving that impulse buying patterns work for single products like sweaters and beer koozies. Separately, they offer special edition chalices that shoppers can’t find on third-party sites, and promoted their NFL koozies with a geo-specific campaign that offered users from New York a Jets Koozie, and users from Kansas City specially-branded Kansas City Chiefs Bud cans. “For us, apparel and merchandise plays a very critical role in our branding promotion,” explained Faviano. “So we performed these small tests that have been successful, or ‘failed forward to improve the way we work.’”
One store for all
Over time Anheuser-Busch continued to iterate on the experience-first approach, by integrating their various branded shopping experiences into a single web store, Shopbeergear.com. This clean, simple web store offers products by Budweiser, Bud Light, Busch, Michelob ULTRA, Natural Light, and a host of other Anheuser-Busch brands, all in one place. They integrated multiple solutions with Adobe Commerce Cloud to create this experience, including Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Tag Manager, Adobe Analytics, Gigya, and a Custom Lite Weight API integration. They also boosted their product catalog with specialty products and seasonal items, while integrating cross-channel brand strategies.
“The strategy of implementing a cross-branded web store combined with a commerce-enabled experience within AEM has provided the team at Anheuser-Busch with the flexibility to accommodate an ever changing business environment.” said Faviano. “A pivot in strategy back to individual branded stores was accommodated through API integrations between Magento and AEM, while the benefits of the cross-branded shopbeergear.com experience remained intact. It became the engine at the center of a growing catalog of merchandise.”
Incredibly, in the first quarter of 2019, the Bud Light and Budweiser test has already exceeded the company’s entire 2018 orders, in just a three-to-four month period, proving that the impulse buying patterns work for single products. And they’re not finished yet. Future efforts will include integrating their store with the Anheuser-Busch rewards platform, building upon other brands, more A/B testing, and instrumenting shopbeergear.com with Adobe Analytics. “We always need to keep evolving,” said Faviano. “Our strategy can best be described as ‘test-and-learn’ – and it works very well for us.”