New Belgium Brewing Case Study A
What environmental issues does the New Belgium Company work to address? How has NBB taken a strategic approach to addressing these issues? Why do you think the company has taken such a strong stance toward sustainability?
The New Belgium Company has implemented a number of cost-efficient and energy saving initiatives which are aim to reduce global warming. For example, the company invested in a wind turbine, making it one of the first fully functioning wind powered breweries in the United States. This has enabled the company to reduce CO2 emissions by 1,800 metric tons a year. In addition, the company has reduced its energy use by a number of different out of the box type thinking initiatives. Some of these initiatives include, creating a steam condenser that captures and reuses hot water that boils the barley and hops that is then redirected to heat the floor tiles and de-ice the loading docks in cold weather. The company also invested in more energy efficient brew kettles and sun tubes to provide natural daytime lighting throughout the year. New Belgium also takes great pride in reducing its waste through recycling and multiple reuse strategies.
The company has built and integrated its marketing strategy around the concept of linking the quality of its products along with its brand to the commitment to reduce its impact on the environment. I believe New Belgium has taken such a strong stance toward sustainability because this is all part of the company’s core values and beliefs and its overall commitment to quality. I believe this all goes hand in hand. If you are that committed towards continual ways for improvement and looking at ways to increase your sustainability, that same commitment carries over to your product and your commitment to your customers and employees.
Do you agree that New Belgium’s focus on social responsibility provides a key competitive advantage for the company? Why or why not?
I do believe New Belgium’s focus on social responsibilities provides a competitive advantage for them. New Belgium has done a good job to keep itself grounded and continues to stick to the company’s core values and mission statement that was developed 20 years ago. I think by keeping that same commitment to the quality of its products and dedication to the company’s employees along with the commitment to the environment, it has set the tone for other brewers as well as other companies to follow. The company’s most important asset is its image, which stands for quality, responsibility and concern for society.
I think because they started as a smaller business they had a greater impact on local communities and their neighbors by creating jobs and providing goods and services and getting involved in those communities. I believe they are able to achieve a competitive advantage because all of those same principles and core values are just as important today as they were when the company first started. The company has never lost focus of what it stood for. I think a lot of larger companies get so focused on the bottom line that they lose sight of the little things and what they stand for.
What are the challenges associated with combining the need for growth with the need to maintain customer intimacy and social responsibility? Does NBB risk losing its focus on its core beliefs if it grows too quickly? Explain.
In my opinion, customer intimacy and social responsibility has to be balanced. NBB wants to increase its sales without losing its humble feel and to continue to be culturally authentic. In addition, another challenge to increasing sales is increasing waste as well as increasing energy consumption. The company will need to continue to look at collaborative measures to reduce the impact on the environment with increased sales and growth. I think any company runs the risk of losing its focus on its core beliefs if it grows too quickly. The key for NB will be a balancing act of steady growth while maintaining their focus on their core beliefs and image. Achievement of growth while maintaining its focus on its core beliefs will take great collaboration and everyone from NBB plays a big role.
Some segments of society contend that companies that sell alcoholic beverages and tobacco products cannot be socially responsible organizations because of the nature of their primary products. Do you believe that New Belgium’s actions and initiatives are indicative of a socially responsible corporation? Why or why not?
NBB should be applauded for making genuine efforts to do the right things ethically, environmentally and socially. Alcohol and tobacco products will have a demand regardless of who is manufacturing it. Just because a company manufactures alcohol, which is legal, it does not make them irresponsible. Ultimately, the consumers are the ones that act irresponsibly. If the companies are promoting responsible drinking and discouraging the sale of alcohol to minors, then I believe that they are being ethically and socially responsible. If they can go into business, being environmentally friendly in their manufacturing and be socially responsible, and keep another company from succeeding that does not care about the environment or be socially responsible, then it will be better all around.