The news that a takeover bid has now been accepted from AB-In Bev to acquire SAB Miller for an estimated 70 billion pounds has quite naturally sparked considerable debate across the industry about the future and what it holds for everyone else.
It has been a frequent topic of conversation over the last few weeks and the general consensus seems to be that whilst this will lead to one 'megabrewer' owning over 30% of the worldwide market, it will actually open up opportunities for other organisations to make more of a headway within the market.
A common trend following any merger is a natural transition period where both companies are integrated in terms of staff and culture. This can often lead to some churn in terms of staff within the new organisation. The industry is dependent on relationships between the sales force and the customers they work with and this, in some cases, can take years to develop. As the merger takes shape - and it is important to state that the timescales for this are unknown as of yet - there is a distinct possibility that as established account managers move on from the new business, an opportunity will present itself to other companies to capitalise and increase their market share.
Rumours that organisations like Heineken are already looking to acquire strong performing brands from their rivals in a bid to be in position to capitalise on this possible upheaval shows that competitors can see the market beginning to shift already.
This takeover has created a never before seen imbalance in terms of market share and by preparing for the future now rival organisations can give themselves a real chance of being able to compete with the new 'megabrewer'.
For a long time, the soft drink market has been dominated by a small number of worldwide corporations (Coca Cola, Pepsi, Britvic) and everyone is well versed in the brands and the stories behind them.
However, over the last few years (particularly in London) a number of soft drink start-ups have begun to make an impression in this market. Could some of these companies go on to replicate the success achieved by independent brands in the alcoholic drinks sector?
I spoke with a Managing Director of a start-up soft drink business (who wished to remain anonymous) to see how they were building market presence against the dominant players:
"The most integral part of our success to date is the strength of independent brand we are building in the restaurant scene. We believe we are offering an upmarket alternative to the bigger brands, and that seems to resonate with our customers."
One success story everyone is looking to emulate is the rise of Fever Tree, who have become a global player in the tonic market. As consumer demand for drinks changed, they were able to position themselves as a provider of high quality tonic, to both drive and take advantage of new trends.
As a number of start-ups begin to make traction within the soft drinks arena, the chances of one or two of these up-and-coming brands achieving similar success to Fever Tree looks promising.