SAMCOM: How POP helps Anheuser Busch InBev’s most important annual meeting

Legendary NFL quarterback Peyton Manning is welcomed on stage to roaring applause. Meanwhile, an Estrella Jalisco-sponsored mariachi band and Day of the Dead dancers entertain other event attendees. Though this sounds like the description of a music festival, these are actually some of the activities that have taken place over the years at Anheuser Busch InBev’s annual conference, SAMCOM.ˀ

The meeting is an opportunity for Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) to bring its brands to life for national wholesalers through engaging experiences that reconnect them to the individual personalities of each ABI brand. The event is critical to ABI’s business, as wholesalers are among its most important commercial partners and the party-like atmosphere revitalises their excitement about ABI’s brands and their upcoming marketing goals for the year.

Wholesalers place their orders for ABI beverages and point-of-purchase (POP) displays over the course of three multi-week time periods. SAMCOM 2018 – moved from February to January to coincide with the first yearly sales window – offered enhanced immersive experiences for attendees. As buyers are more likely to purchase if they can see products in person, SAMCOM gives wholesalers an opportunity to see and test their latest beverage and merchandising items. ABI also released its app before the show for wholesalers, allowing customers to browse products and place orders easily on their phone, even while at the event. These changes reflect the increasing role SAMCOM plays as a vehicle for business growth in that all-important January sales window.

POP displays are a critical component of ABI’s success at SAMCOM as branded racks, frames and other merchandising products are the foundation of every individual brand’s booth. As wholesalers make the first of three large orders of beverages and POP products per year in January, their experience at SAMCOM will be fresh in their minds. So ABI continues to rely even more heavily on its POP partners like Vox SP to entice wholesalers with the highest quality displays.

Working with multiple teams

Vox SP harmonises the needs of its clients’ procurement and marketing departments by taking the most creative ideas for retail, restaurant and bar displays and making them a reality. Vox SP works in partnership with ABI’s New York and Chicago-based creative agencies and brand teams. As many brewers and FMCG companies can appreciate, when marketing agencies design visually impactful displays they’re often made without full consideration of the costs. This can be problematic in today’s ever-increasing competitive landscape where wholesalers are working with tight budgets and need the cost per unit to be as low as possible in order to maximise their ROI.

These big hitters need displays that are both cost efficient and can hold a high capacity of product. This is when the ABI creative and brand teams look to Vox SP as the value engineering partner that will find a way to make their idea profitable without compromising on the aesthetics. Vox SP will consider alternative materials, sizes and other elements to bring the visual to life at the right price point.

Bringing feel-good stories to life

Six months on from SAMCOM, plans for the 2019 conference are about to begin. Next year will have the expected announcements about the brand’s strategic plans and an even greater emphasis on building ABI’s relationship with wholesalers. The market is constantly looking for something new, so innovative POP solutions will need to be present to garner wholesalers’ attention. But it can be difficult predicting what types of exciting new products will engage wholesalers. That’s why ABI’s Stella Artois Procurement team purchased more than 10,000 of Vox SP’s display units to support its ‘Buy a lady a drink’ campaign with For every multipack of Stella sold, the brand provided six months’ of clean water to someone in the developing world and one month for each bottle sold in pubs and bars. This initiative is very important to Stella Artois, so it was critical to have racks on display at SAMCOM that would bring the campaign to life in order to get wholesalers at the show excited about purchasing units.

The successful ‘Buy a lady a drink’ execution helped drive Stella Artois’ goal of providing clean water for developing communities around the world, because the POP programme was a great way to engage customers. Vox SP has also been proactive about suggesting new ideas across ABI’s brand portfolio that will support objectives and reduce pain points. These suggestions have had a very positive response, so Vox SP expects to receive 30-40 briefs for a range of products, including A-frames, racks, LEDs and other displays. These requests bring new challenges for POP partners to meet, particularly when demands fall at the experimental end of the creative spectrum. Although no one can predict which display will be the next smash hit to rival the success of the ‘Buy a lady a drink’ display, Vox will be involved supporting ABI and its wholesalers to achieve ever greater success at the point of purchase.