AB Inbev rolls out Hoppy app for consumer downloads

28 May, 2020

AB Inbev has turned to gamification in a bid to whip up a passion for beer among younger generations of drinkers.

The world’s largest brewer created an app called Hoppy to help educate its 180,000 staff on the craftsmanship that goes into brewing. It then realised that the app had strong potential as a consumer education tool, and it has now started rolling it out for general downloads.

Users can have fun tested their beer knowledge, complete quizzes, collecting badges, earning “beercoins” and trying to top the global leaderboard. It teaches consumers about beer’s ingredients, the brewing process, the history of beer, glassware and tasting advice. The app is full of fun facts, anecdotes and stories designed to be shared in a casual format.

Hoppy is the brainchild of Charles Nouwen, proud owner of a fabulous job title: head of passion for beer at AB Inbev. He began his career in Belgium and now works in the firm’s New York office, although he is currently working from his home in New Jersey. Drinks International caught up with Nouwen – via Zoom, of course – to learn more about the use of technology in order to connect with younger adults that want to broaden their beer knowledge.

“Our training was perhaps too academic or in-depth, so we crushed it into a smaller, playful format, using gamification to make it interesting,” he says. “You can do quizzes and win badges. It gives you impactful knowledge that you can share with your friends.”

In essence, Nouwen aims to communicate “the magic of the brewing process” without getting too bogged down in the technical intricacies. “I’m spreading the gospel of beer and the beauty of the brewing process,” he says. “Driving engagement around beer through education, communication and multiple aspects of bringing the passion to life.

“I am trying to find what emotionally connects people with beer and communicate it effectively. I want to give consumers information about the craftsmanship that goes into the beer and communicate the stories behind the brands.”

A large part of Nouwen’s role involves working with brand teams in different markets around the world, helping them communicate a passion for beer with consumers. He has travelled extensively, and believes there is plenty of scope to export local consumption trends around the world. He points to Brazil, where people in bars drink small glasses of ice cold beer, which are instantly refilled until you put a coaster on the glass to indicate you would like a break. Nouwen also sees potential in the large category of beers at around 2.5% abv that have flourished in Australia. 

“There is a great opportunity in low-alcohol beers,” he says. “I like a double IPA, but you sometimes need to lie down afterwards. If you can enjoy a great taste at lower alcohol then it works well.”

He is no purist and speaks passionately about innovations like dry beer and hybrids, but he cautions against pushing innovation too far in terms of the brewing process.

“Beer has been around for 10,000 years,” he says. “But the craft industry has proven that beer can be really creative in design and marketing. We don’t need to experiment with extreme recipes, but rethinking packaging, format, size, artwork and design is important. Customisation, being relevant and having a message for every occasion is important.

“We have to do our homework and make sure we are as sexy as wine and spirits and coffee, and make sure we are Instagrammable. We need to make our beer relevant through the format and the packaging.”

* You can hear more from Charles Nouwen on a new podcast from Ripples called DrinkX. The series is aimed at drinks industry professionals, and covers topical issues facing the trade.  





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