How AB InBev taps into African values, cultures to position global brands

By Joseph Ekeng

AB InBev, the world’s largest brewery, is making significant strides in the African market by tapping into the values and cultures of the continent to position its global brands successfully. Recognizing the importance of resonating with local consumers, the brewing giant has taken up the challenge of adapting its renowned beer brands such as Budweiser and Stella Artois, to align with the diverse and vibrant African market.

Thomas Lawrence, AB InBev’s Acting Director for High-End brands, emphasizes the role of consumers in shaping the direction of the brand. He explained, “The intention is to continue developing campaigns that consumers can relate to. That means telling African stories to an African market.” One such campaign that Lawrence highlights is Corona’s 2022 Free Surfers campaign. Launched on South Africa’s Freedom Day, it featured surfer Cass Collier and lifeguard Khanyisa Mngqibisa, who shared their inspiring journeys of overcoming stereotypes and apartheid to find freedom in the waves. The campaign successfully tapped into local passions and created a deeper connection with consumers.

Budweiser, one of AB InBev’s flagship global brands, has also made strategic moves to engage African consumers. In 2022, the brand sponsored the ‘Budweiser BUDX Lagos’ live musical concert in Nigeria, featuring some of the country’s top artists such as Davido, Teni, and Tiwa Savage. The event served as a build-up to the FIFA World Cup, for which Budweiser was the official global beer sponsor. By immersing itself in Nigeria’s vibrant music scene, Budweiser aimed to connect with the passion of African consumers.

“Africans are passionate about sports, their history, and their culture. There is a fine line between reverence and disrespect,” Lawrence explained. “The challenge is to grow slowly and in the right direction. Tap into the passion and stop applying too much focus on the product. The African market needs to believe in your purpose before they believe in your product.” This insight underscores AB InBev’s approach of understanding and respecting the values and aspirations of African consumers.

Kwezi Vika, Africa Zone Marketing Manager for Budweiser, recognizes the importance of giving the brand a purpose that resonates with African consumers. He says, “As an American brand with American heritage, we had to take this global brand and give it a purpose that would resonate with African consumers.” This purpose-driven approach ensures that Budweiser aligns with the values and aspirations of African consumers.

Stella Artois, another brand under AB InBev’s umbrella, has also been making significant progress in the African market. Itumeleng Wesi, Africa Zone Marketing Manager for Stella Artois, believes that quality and aspiration provide a universal truth that any market can relate to. However, he acknowledged the importance of acknowledging the brand’s European roots as a crucial step in connecting with African consumers. “The biggest challenge for brands growing in Africa is acknowledging that you are not a local,” Wesi explains. “We can’t shy away from the fact that our brand has European roots, so it’s all about how we localize and resonate with Africans to earn their love and respect.” Stella Artois aims to celebrate its roots while highlighting the local origins of its ingredients, such as hops grown in Southern Africa.

AB InBev’s success in positioning its global brands in Africa stems from its commitment to understanding and embracing local values and cultures. By telling African stories, tapping into passions like music and sports, and celebrating local origins, the brewery forges stronger connections with African consumers, earning their trust and loyalty. With a deepening understanding of the African market, AB InBev is poised to continue its growth and success on the continent.


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