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Refreshing Refreshments: How AB-InBev Colombia is Finding Growth Through Innovation



Juan Alonso Torres, AB-InBev Marketing Director on the three keys to innovating the non-alcoholic beverages portfolio of AB-InBev Colombia

Refreshing Refreshments: How AB-InBev Colombia is Finding Growth Through Innovation
Over the past few years, Juan Alonso Torres has been busy innovating and refreshing the non-alcoholic brands – old and new – at AB InBev Colombia [you can read more about brands like Pony Malta and Agua Zalva]. Whether it’s beloved brands in the market that needed to find a new relevance or creating new products to carve out a new space, Juan Alonso and his team at AB InBev and at his agencies had already been working on exciting innovations – but when the pandemic hit and behaviours changed, the need for new thinking grew even greater. Here Juan Alonso discusses the keys to the team’s success.

Understanding the needs of our consumers, connecting emotionally with them, and becoming part of their daily lives can be achieved through smart innovation. That is precisely the key that has helped us achieve sustained success with AB InBev’s non-alcoholic beverages (NABs) portfolio in Colombia. With that we seek to strengthen the offer to meet our audience’s expectations of each of our brands.

As a category, we focus on an integral brand proposal that aims to captivate our consumers: liquids, communication, experiences, actions with a purpose, etc. In terms of innovation, we recently added two new flavors to our malt portfolio responding to Colombians' needs and also launched a strategy targeting environmental care with Agua Zalva, reflecting our commitment to continue being competitive in the market while preserving a commercial proposal with a purpose. For me, the innovation strategy for this year-end can be divided into three: new liquids, addressing relevant passion points, and non-traditional media that bring our purpose to life.


After presenting Colombians’ most beloved ‘Lioness’, Malta Leona, for the first time 20 years ago, we introduced Malta Leona Café, a beverage that preserves the traditional malt flavor, enhanced with Colombian coffee to recharge and refresh consumers when they need an energy boost. With this recent launch, our commitment to positioning and strengthening our malts and beverages portfolio continues, innovating through flavor to attract a different audience: young people looking for an indulgent recharge and a new taste. This new product also innovates with an original format for the category: slim can. 

Understanding long-term trends in flavors, consumption occasions and packaging is the starting point for making innovation of this type relevant and everlasting over time. We try to have a swift dynamic to launch new products, but the priority is to really discover what consumers need, sometimes without them telling us explicitly; it is our job to make their lives easier (or tastier).


With over 60 years in Colombia, the Pony Malta brand continues working to help the country’s girls, boys and adolescents to be the best version of themselves. That is why Pony Malta launched a nationwide promotion in partnership with one of the world’s most massive and played videogame: Free Fire. Under the brand’s labels, fans will find promo codes that they can use to swap for prizes like skins, emotes, and characters, among others. Accordingly, the brand powerfully activates a passion point that is highly significant for the target: gaming. 

Leveraging on this massive promotion, we also launched a new flavor inspired by the videogame (and within our target’s entertainment territory): Pony Malta Free Fire, proving the liquidity of both companies to create a differentiated consumer experience on all fronts. 
Effectively triggering passion points is difficult; innovating how we do it was crucial to bring the entertainment world and the brand’s commercial reality together for a growth target. 


Besides focusing on new product launches and flavour innovation, the NABs category centers on creating strategies that add value to consumers. Accordingly, our water brand, Zalva, seeks to raise awareness among parents and children about the importance of caring for the moorland as the country’s primary water source through a collection of children’s horror tales.

We created ‘Real Monsters,’ a collection of books for Colombian families about the real monsters of the moorland using a friendly and creative narrative in topics like deforestation, poaching, global warming, and clearing of trees, which as years go by are increasingly affecting the planet.

A printed edition and free audiobooks are available so that all Colombian families can access them; it is the first branded entertainment action executed by the brand, always focused on sustainability. 

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