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Impact Seminar: Albert Baladi And Claudia Schubert On Pairing Values With Profits

March 12, 2020

Beam Suntory president and CEO Albert Baladi kicked off last week’s 44th Annual Impact Marketing Seminar with a presentation on “Building a Purpose-Driven Spirits Company.” Citing Beam Suntory’s vision of “Growing for Good,” Baladi noted that the business is aiming to be not just profitable, but inclusive and socially responsible as well.

Beam Suntory is looking to reach $10 billion in sales—up from the current $4.6 billion—by 2030, in part by raising the portfolio mix from 35% premium brands to 50%, and growing sales in emerging markets from the current level of 10% to 25%.

Baladi noted that as the company grows, it’s also committed to having a positive global impact. At the forefront of that is building a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Beam Suntory has set company-wide targets including 50% women in leadership, 45% ethnic representation in the U.S., and making sure employees are equally evaluated. The company also recently introduced more flexible workplace policies, expanding parental paid leave benefits to 26 weeks.

In addition, Beam Suntory has committed to a broad social responsibility platform. The company has increased its water efficiency, reduced carbon emissions, and conserved watersheds, the latter being especially important, according to Baladi, as water is the lifeblood of Beam Suntory’s brands. He also pointed to such initiatives as Together For Good, the company’s annual global day of service, which launched last year, and Cruzan rum’s contributions following Hurricane Maria in 2017—Cruzan now donates a portion of its proceeds to the Island Spirit Fund, which supports disaster relief in the U.S.

In terms of reducing alcohol-related harm, Beam Suntory has placed age restriction symbols on its packaging, and partnered with leading digital platforms to eliminate online exposure of its messaging to minors.

In a similar vein, Diageo North America’s president of U.S. Spirits & Canada, Claudia Schubert, spoke on “A New Era of Values,” and opened by asking the room’s participants to consider “how we can raise the bar individually and within our companies, when it comes to our role in society.”

Among Diageo’s focus areas is promoting grain-to-glass sustainability, according to Schubert, who pointed to Bulleit as an exemplary brand. Bulleit, based at its distillery in Shelbyville, Kentucky, has committed itself to being carbon neutral by 2030, and to sourcing 100% of renewable electricity within that time frame, among other initiatives.

Schubert also highlighted Crown Royal’s Purple Bag program as an example of a brand making a positive impact on local communities. Purple Bag features a partnership with nonprofit organization Packages From Home, which has distributed over 1 million care packages to military personnel and others in need.

Schubert also noted Diageo’s dedication to championing diversity and inclusion—the company is among the top-ranked, globally, to work for in terms of gender equality, and has received top marks from the Human Rights Campaign in their corporate equality index as well. Last year, the company rolled out a new family leave policy, with men and women both entitled to a minimum of 26 weeks of paid leave.

The last pillar is promoting responsible drinking, illustrated by Crown Royal’s “Take a Water Break” campaign, which reminds consumers to avoid excessive drinking. “With over $20 million of investment, we reached about 200 million TV impressions and handed out 60,000 bottles of water in stadiums,” said Schubert.—Julia Higgins

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