Case: The Innovation Story of Bavaria

Where family business, innovation, sustainability and guerrilla marketing meet
Case: The Innovation Story of Bavaria Case: The Innovation Story of Bavaria
Publ. date 21 Feb 2013
Mid Februari 2013, the case “Bavaria and the Swinkels Familiy: Brewing a Sticky Brand” won the prestigious 2012 EFMD Case Writing Competition in the category “Family Business”. The case was written by Benoit Leleux, professor at IMD Lausanne and Jan van der Kaaij, managing partner at Finch & Beak and highlights the key success factors of challenger beer brand Bavaria.

The central learning question

The case presents a paradoxal scope of the way the family business that has been existing for over 300 years. It demonstrates the Bavaria’s unorthodox shared leadership model combined with a entrepreneurial management style. The key question in the case is how the brand can be “revitalized” on the one hand and can stay true to its identity and core values on the other. By cleverly combining innovation, guerrilla marketing and sustainability with its brand values, Bavaria was very successful in refreshing the brand and keeping the family shareholders happy. And the company was making headlines underway with its Bavaria Babes that set the new norm in guerrilla marketing around the globe.

Application of the case

The case is part of a series of cases produced on family business, innovation and sustainability. Previous cases were written on Torres wines (2010) and Happy Shrimp (2007). All cases and the accompanying teaching materials are part of the IMD’s curriculum. Finch & Beak, thought leader on business and sustainability, applies the cases in its GLOBE-US methodology when consulting family businesses en enterprises on their value proposition and training their senior management. GLOBE-US is based on the Business Model Canvas and was developed in cooperation with the authors of the Business Model Canvas, Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur.


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