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ST. LOUIS -- "Focus, Focus, Focus," is the main reason Anheuser-Busch, Inc. last week moved Robert C. Lachky into the new position of e.v.p., global industry development, Tom Pirko, president of beverage consulting firm Bevmark, Santa Inez, Calif. told Progressive Grocer. "They are putting one of their best people in a position to make things happen," for a category where not enough has been happening.
In his newly created position, Lachky will be responsible for representing Anheuser-Busch with alcohol beverage industry groups nationally and abroad, and will work to enhance the overall image of the beer industry with both the public and within the industry.
It will be an enhancement that is needed, if industry figures are any indication. According to ACNielsen, the beer category was down 0.7 percent in 2004, and is expected to continue to decline as wine and spirits grow in popularity for reasons such as health, savvy marketing, and culture.
"This is a business where growth has slowed to a crawl," said Pirko. "Traditionally, you grew beer sales with advertising, new product introductions, and pricing. But these [have not been] working. AB already has a commanding distribution system, and it has the retailer relationships already. So what do you do? You hire someone like Bob, to really examine the problem and come up with the right solution."
August A. Busch IV, president of Anheuser-Busch, Inc., said as much when he announced the new position: "What we needed was an individual of credibility and stature who can represent the company and the industry in a comprehensive, consistent and proactive manner. Bob has been the voice of Anheuser-Busch via our advertising and creative messaging. This new position recognizes Bob's strengths and talents as a key spokesperson of the company and, in fact, of the entire beer industry."
As e.v.p. of global industry development, Lachky will represent Anheuser-Busch, Inc. with key audiences and proactively identify all industry groups where Anheuser Busch's story should be represented and heard. He will serve as the company's representative with trade groups and industry organizations.
Assuming Lachky's prior position as v.p. of brand management will be Marlene V. Coulis -- the first woman, and the first Latino, in the company's history to hold this position. Said Busch, "She brings with her not only an extensive background in consumer research and brand marketing, but a decidedly new perspective on connecting with today's contemporary adult consumer."
Coulis, who has been with the company for 13 years, has held prior positions in geographic marketing, new product/brand development and marketing research. Her current position is v.p. of marketing planning & research and customer satisfaction. Coulis will also become a member of the Anheuser-Busch Strategy Committee, a group comprised of the company's most senior executives responsible for overseeing policy and setting the company's strategic course.