The Journey to Purpose – AB InBev

Fortune magazine has named Carlos Brito “Businessperson of the Year.” Harvard Business Review has named him one of the best performing CEOs in the world. Brito has been included on Barron’s “30 Most Respected CEOs” list every year since 2011. Brito joined the Page conference to describe his company’s journey to social impact and why AB-InBev, the world’s largest brewer, has such aggressive sustainability goals.

  • Carlos Brito, CEO, Anheuser Busch InBev
  • William Lewis, Publisher, Wall Street Journal & CEO, Dow Jones & Co. (Interviewer)

Session Photos



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“We need communities to be environmentally sound. We need the society to function. We want to have a seat at the table, not be a part of the menu when people are talking about problems and solutions.” – Brito

Brito explained how he confronted the topic of purpose after he was asked by an employee during a town hall meeting, “What would the world miss if AB InBev did not exist?”

“I went back to my people I said, ‘We really need to think hard about this’,” Brito said. “Anybody can sell products. In the end, if you are part of the community, you need to be part of the solution to problems.”




Brito looks for three things in potential purpose initiatives:
  • Results have to be sustainably secured.
  • Must help the company evolve.
  • Has to make a contribution to the community.


Purpose campaigns from AB InBev:
  • Domestic violence prevention in South Africa: Carling Black Label’s #NoExcuse initiative in South Africa. “We decided it was time for our brand to engage on this. Being a ‘champion man’ isn’t about being a macho man, it’s about being a family man. We were saying, ‘Hey, no excuse. If you drink, drink in a responsible way, and that doesn’t connect with what you are doing’.”
  • “Buy a lady a drink” with Linking sales to the delivery of safe drinking water to people in the developing world.
  • Water literacy and conservation in South Africa: During Cape Town’s drought this year, the company opened up its well to the public, and packaged it for delivery outside the area. “No water, no beer. People expect companies to do the right thing that is also good for their business.”


In his own words:

”Millennials want to help. They like beer, for sure, but they also want to make a difference.”

“People don’t always trust NGOs. When brands they trust offer them a possibility of buying a product and helping somebody, you are solving a problem for them – bridging a desire they have to help, but they don’t always know how to make that happen.”

“My main function is really people. The only truly sustainable competitive advantage is the people you attract, the culture and the mindset.”

“Things will only have an enduring life if they are the right thing to do and they make business sense. Consumers have to believe that you have the right of way.“

– Brito

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