Interest groups refer to groups of people who are affected by a company’s operations and performance, known also as the ‘stakeholders’. These are a crucial part of the company’s performance because of their strong influence on the decisions taken and the promotion of permanent dialogue is essential for the development of the company.

Within the redefinition of business strategies as a consequence of the impact of COVID-19 on the consumption patterns of the population, a fundamental part is a review of the relationships with and among the interest groups of a company or product. The companies that have maintained their market position and have even taken advantage of the market over their competitors have been those that have managed to adapt to the needs of consumers which have changed significantly, many times by talking to their stakeholders.

For example, the higher education sector was greatly impacted by being one in which the delivery of the product or service was done in person, despite incipient advances in online education. Being disabled indefinitely, the institutions found themselves in the immediate need to migrate to a virtual delivery of services. This situation required complex adjustments in all interest groups: teachers, students, parents, or workers, for example. These adjustments are still present and will continue to evolve, and it is a clear example of how cultivating dialogue with interest groups is not only important but crucial to the viability of the business.

The educational systems had to adjust the reception of classes to the digital way, being the only available alternative. This involved a different way of providing education, which is more difficult to learn, was not widely used, and requires other instruments. Teachers, or the interest group that taught classes, had to adjust to this new way of interacting with their audience, modifying the formats of classes and assessments and the way in which they interact with their students, among many other aspects. The inability to have face-to-face contact with students made them teach in unknown conditions to most.

At the same time, the institutions, once aiming to tackle these changes of the different interest groups, have been faced with the new challenge of responding to those looking for mixed formulas for teaching or receiving classes. This could represent an overload of their facilities or an opportunity to broaden their student base since virtual classes can be attended by a larger number of people at the same time or at different times. In other words, the institutions are, thanks to this new reality, in a position of multiplying their reach to new audiences which could not previously attend because of their teaching and infrastructure capabilities.

Good practices:

The Mexican bottler, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, allocated $6.5 million to the adaptation and improvement of workplaces with a focus on the prevention of contagion. In addition, it focused on supporting the health system, the community, and vulnerable groups, benefiting more than 1.7 million people and 119 civil society organizations with donations of more than $100 million Mexican pesos.

At the value chain level, the company has served customers and waste pickers with prevention items, through NGOs. They have also accompanied seven strategic suppliers through the “Competitive Business” program of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), encouraging good practices among them.

Through a strategy that contemplated the transfer of mobile units within the framework of its business in the food industry, the company coordinated with the Ministry of Health in Peru to develop a campaign against anemia that benefited more than 120,000 people.

The aim of the campaign was to promote rich foods, through talks and explanations about their importance to prevent anemia. This cooperation with a public entity and citizen impact is a demonstration of how to develop strategic initiatives towards various interest groups.

This company of Brazilian origin, with operations throughout the region and part of AnheuserBusch Inbev as a subsidiary, has implemented the global culture of the company to develop relations with farmers, as key players in the value chain for Ambev’s business.

Through multiple initiatives, Ambev fosters relationships with farmers to find ways to improve their productivity, profitability and help them manage their crops in an environmentally friendly manner.

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