But Guimarães proved the other bankers wrong. The BMG Bank sponsorship program was a money maker. BMG is now the largest sponsor of soccer in the country, and the bank has become a major profit maker thanks to the support of soccer fans. When Guimarães heard that Anheuser-Bush was introducing an incentive for United States beer distributors, he want to know more about the plan. The AB InBev incentive gives distributors a reward if they promote Anheuser-Bush owned craft beer breweries. Distributors that participate will be reimbursed for marketing and retail displays. That could return a lot of money to distributors bank accounts. that
The AB InBev plan was introduced in January of 2016, and so far just one distributor has signed an agreement. That distributor is a St Louis distributor that has a long standing relationship with Anheuser-Bush. But other beer distributors are not sure the plan is legal. To some people, like Guimarães, the plan sounds like a kick-back and that can create enormous issues for the Anheuser-Bush and the distributor. According to Anheuser-Bush, the fact that the company owns craft beer brands gives them the right to reward distributors by reimbursing 50 percent of their cost to market and display AB InBev products.
The Department of Justice may not agree with Anheuser-Bush. Several craft breweries complained about the plan, and the DOJ is looking into those complaints. It could take months before the Department of Justice gives a ruling on the AB InBev plan, and that’s not good news for AB. AB InBev products have been losing market share for the last two years, even though the company has several craft beer labels in their product assortment.
But the consumer will ultimately decide whether AB InBev products can compete with local breweries that produce beer that has more flavor, better packaging and doesn’t come from an old established brewery that wants to control the beer market. Young beer drinkers will continue to buy craft beer because it helps small business and puts a middle finger in the face of profit-hungry big businesses that work for investors not consumers.