Abstract: Diversification Strategies in the Global Drinks Industry
This paper examines the diversification strategies of the world's leading multinationals in alcoholic beverages between 1960 and 2002, a period when that industry underwent major changes and became global. The paper explains why, despite following quite different diversification strategies, these multinationals appeared quite similar by the beginning of the twenty-first century. It suggests that while these firms internationalized extensively within their core businesses, they restricted diversification to their domestic markets. This paper also looks at the cycles of diversification followed by these firms within the alcoholic beverages industry, explaining why the dominant patterns of diversification they followed were from beer into wines and spirits; from spirits into wines; and, more modestly, from wines into spirits. The overall argument of the paper is that these apparently distinct diversification strategies can be explained by a combination of physical linkages and knowledge linkages that existed between the businesses.