By Christina Ameln, CSR | Sustainability Advisor –
Heineken Vietnam that has been working hard to ensure their words “Brewing a Better World” has a sincere impact in the region. Matt Wilson, Corporate Affairs Director, in his follow-up segment, acquaints us how the company works on responsible drinking, how it strives to be best in class; and the inspiration it finds even with challenges around them.
To read the previous segment on Heineken Vietnam’s sustainability agenda, connecting international and local guidelines, and improving internal processes to have a positive impact, click on How is Heineken Vietnam “Brewing a Better World” (1/2).
Matt Wilson, Corporate Affairs Director, Heineken Vietnam
Let’s talk about responsible alcohol consumption! How does Heineken Vietnam push it in Vietnam?
A lot of it starts with behaviour change and trying to instigate that change.
Our brands have a huge following in Vietnam – particularly Tiger and Heineken which are really looked up to as aspirational brands. We try to use that power responsibly by communicating the need to drink responsibly through the brands themselves, not as a corporate entity, so that consumers who look up to those brands see the need to drink responsibly in a more positive light. But it is also about trying to make the potential solutions simple and practical.
In terms of drink-driving, we are currently running a campaign designed to make taking a taxi or organizing a sober driver cool and desirable. This is a combination of trying to change the dialogue around taking a taxi or planning a safe way home from being seen as some form of weakness to being the cooler and classier thing to do, utilizing the premium positioning of Heineken.
We back this up by having brand ambassadors going into hundreds of bars and restaurants three times a week over a five-month period – approaching people about not drinking and driving and handing out more than 100,000 taxi and Uber vouchers in order to ‘nudge’ them in the right direction.
The entire campaign cost around EUR500k and will be repeated once we understand the impacts of the first phase. The campaign was designed off the back of global research that we did which found that, of the Vietnamese people surveyed, 37% thought it was culturally acceptable in Vietnam to drink and drive. That is against a global average of 28% in the countries surveyed and either way is simply way too high.
What pushes you to be best in class, when peers are sometimes not?
The desire to have the greatest positive impact.
The ultimate purpose of running a business or entity in a sustainable way is to have a positive interaction with your environment and society so that you can sustain that business over the long term. It is a very literal term!
I think particularly in markets like Vietnam, where sustainability at a corporate level is a relativity new concept, there is an even greater obligation to lead from the front.
At the end of the day, if something is a material issue for your business (like for instance drink-driving and misuse of alcohol), doing nothing, just because your peers are doing nothing, is not going to remove that issue for you. It is all the more reason to not only do what you can but try to encourage your industry to come along with you.
I have found though that most FMCG industries are so competitive that once one player takes the lead on a certain issue, the others are normally quick to up their game in response. Once you get competitors vying for who is the more sustainable / has the more sustainable products, then things really heat up in terms of big advancements in their processes and actions.
Any final ‘inspiring’ words for the year ahead?
At the end of 2017, we were thrilled to be named as the most sustainable manufacturing company in Vietnam by the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the annual Corporate Sustainability Index awards.
It was a great honour for us and great to move up from being third the year prior. Most people don’t expect breweries, let alone breweries in Vietnam, to be leaders in sustainability so I love surprising people with the extent of our story and actions.
Awards are nice, and it’s great to get recognition for many years of effort in this space, but the exciting thing is that we know we can do even more. We have some very exciting plans for our new brewery in Vung Tau which we want to be a real exemplar for circular economy approaches in Vietnam.
We’ve had very positive feedback from the responsible drinking campaigns run to date which gives us the faith to go even further, and we have some exciting ideas in terms of reusing waste products in more innovate ways.
Despite there still being clear challenges in terms of climate change and, increasingly air quality, in Vietnam, just in my time here so far, I have seen a real step change from Government and business alike in terms of the need to accelerate sustainable development. There is a great deal more to be done, but there is definitely growing confidence and belief in a more sustainable approach.
Renewable energy options are increasing, with many foreign suppliers flooding into Vietnam. With the forecast increases in electricity demand in Vietnam, and worryingly, a planned increase in reliance on coal power, there are still some significant impediments, but the level of discussion and awareness is improving day-by-day.
One thing I have learnt in Vietnam is that there is a huge body of young entrepreneurs out there and when things change here, they change incredibly fast. So, as we head into the year of the Earth Dog, despite looking out of my window at an unseasonably grey January day, there is great hope and positivity for what is to come in the year ahead.
- For more information on Matt Wilson, Director of Corporate Affairs: https://www.linkedin.com/in/matt-wilson-254300a0/
- For more information on Heineken Vietnam: http://heineken-vietnam.com.vn/en/sustainability/
- For more information on Heineken: http://www.theheinekencompany.com/sustainability
- For more information on CSR, Sustainability and Community Engagement consultancy company visit – Ameln & Co AB
First published January 21, 2018 on Linkedin.