Marketing and production innovation
ABLs multi-beverage strategy also involves tailoring marketing campaigns to customer groups and to beverages fordifferent times of the day. The companys range of products is able to match the various consumer beverage needs atdifferent times of the day. For example, fruit juice for the morning, coffee for the afternoon and sparkling water forthe evening. ABL recently acquired several coffee bean businesses to capitalise on the growth of the coffee market inAustralia. Iii response to key consumption patterns that the company continuously monitors, it is exploring a newproduct idea ready-to-drink chilled coffee- to be offered through ...view middle of the document...
ABL was the first Australian beverage manufacturer to introduce sugar-freedrinks using Stevia, a natural sugar replacement. Stevia is extracted from a native plant of Paraguay in South America.It is a natural product compared with the chemically synthesised artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, that areused in most diet drinks. ABL had to wait two years to get Australian Food Standard approval to use Stevia, despite thefact that the product had already been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.Product development also extends to packaging innovation. However, while some innovations are developed in-house, ABL prefers to work together with key suppliers and service providers to develop packaging ideas. This isbecause packaging innovation requires a high degree of engineering design capability, something which is not a corestrength of the company. As part of the collaborative process, ABL provides the market, customer and trendinformation to packaging specialists to develop into new concepts. A recent packaging innovation success entailedworking with suppliers to reduce the weight and amount of PET used in bottle plastic by 20 per cent and therebyreduce the cost of packaging.
Current managing director, Tom Dwyer, has a strong background in the beverages market. He spent 20 years workingin senior roles with the international food and beverage giant, Butlers Corporation. These roles covered sales,marketing and operations. He was also the head of the Australian business operations for several years. Constant costcutting at Butlers and a lack of autonomy due to increasing head office involvement in the Australian operationsmotivated his move to ABL. Upon joining the company, Dwyer established an internal strategic planning team toassess the current product portfolio and identify organic and acquisition growth options within this product range.
1 Operations and performance
Operational improvements were achieved through strong investment in world class manufacturing facilities andsystems as well as process re-engineering to reduce time-to-market. Just as importantly, Dwyer led the charge incollecting customer information and investing in the systems that would enable data to be used in product andmarket development decisions. Building this approach over 10 years has meant that the company now has a stronginnovation culture and there is a continuous focus on new product development. Ideas can come from all employeesand if the data supports the concept, investment is made in testing the concept. If an idea actually gets to market, theemployee who presented the idea receives an immediate bonus. However, all employees participate in a companyshare scheme, making success a shared goal.ABL also has a strong performance focus. Return on investment and market share are performance measures used inall business units. Recognising that some beverage categories have better profitability than others, different