By uniting marketing and innovation under the remit of global CMO Pedro Earp, AB InBev has cut development timelines from two years to just 36 days.

A thriving innovation strategy should be at the heart of any business looking to stay ahead of disruption. And while there are many ways to approach innovation, Pedro Earp, AB InBev’s global CMO and innovation lead, suggests the only way brands can ensure they remain relevant is by being customer-obsessed.

“The main driver of innovation in any company is consumer-centricity,” he tells Marketing Week. “When you are obsessed about consumers it’s much easier to identify what’s broken or missing, and what consumers are looking for.”

Earp has led innovation at AB InBev since 2015, when the business launched ZX Ventures, a separate entity designed to drive growth. At the time, the drinks giant, which owns brands including Stella Artois, Budweiser and Corona, felt it was “very hard to drive innovation from within”.

This was particularly true for longer-term projects because “if you let them compete in terms of resource and people with things that are more short-term they end up losing”.

But having proved itself as a successful growth driver, responsible for generating more than $1bn (£803m) in sales “almost from zero”, AB InBev decided to bring marketing and ZX Ventures together under Earp’s leadership in January.

“Last year, ZX was responsible for more than 10% of the growth of the whole of AB InBev, so we realised it was time to bring some of the capabilities of ZX into the core business,” explains Earp.

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