Airing between regular episodes of the VinePair Podcast, “Next Round” explores the ideas and innovations that are helping drinks businesses adapt in a time of unprecedented change. As the coronavirus crisis continues and new challenges arise, VP Pro is in your corner, supporting the drinks community for all the rounds to come. If you have a story or perspective to share, email us at podcast@vinepair.com

In this “Next Round,” VinePair Podcast co-host Zach Geballe speaks with Jake Kirsh, VP of innovation at Anheuser-Busch, and a leader behind the launch of Bud Light Seltzer.

Kirsch begins by distinguishing the actual functions of the innovation department: from coming up with and workshopping new ideas, to pushing viable product options to the market. Kirsch gives examples of some of his department’s latest projects, including Bud Light Seltzer, Bud Zero (a non-alcoholic beer), and the Stella Solstice Lager. Each product, he explains, satisfies a different consumer need and showcases new forms of product innovations in the alcoholic beverage market.

Kirsch also delves into some of the changes his division in A-B has seen and responded to as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. From observing the initial turn to comfort brands, to the growing desire to start trying new things again, Kirsch and his colleagues are constantly brainstorming the next trend. Moving forward, he anticipates a focus on solutions in packaging hygiene, which could increase the feeling of safety for consumers choosing products and making purchasing decisions.

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