ORLANDO—Speed and innovation have become the main ingredients for success in the beverage industry, including such staples as beer. But it all starts with listening to consumers first.

“I like to think about the CMO as actually the chief consumer officer. So I guess marketing people should always be the people with the best knowledge about consumers,” says Marcel Marcondes, U.S. CMO, Anheuser-Busch. “Marketing needs to deliver on creativity on advertising and everything. But if you really want to drive growth, we must lead the conversation on innovation as well. Because this is how we fulfill their needs through our products.”

In this interview with Beet.TV at the recent Masters of Marketing conference, Marcondes explains A-B’s quest for agility and why it’s no longer enough to simply steal market share from competitors.

“First and foremost, we’re radically changing the way we do innovation. We’re reducing lead times by half so we can really bring great beers and great products to life in a much faster way,” says Marcondes. “We’re really trying to bring more people to the category” in order to expand the category, he adds, citing health and wellness beverages. “And we’re developing new kinds of beers that can really address that in a very effective way.”

Whereas beer brands are used to planning and delivering “whatever we want to do” to drive business, that strategy has gone flat, according to Marcondes. “Now it’s all about listening to consumers first. So it’s harder to plan. You must pay attention on a daily basis to what’s going on out there, what’s relevant in culture, what people are talking about. This is really time sensitive.”

Asked about A-B’s longtime use of brand-building television advertising, Marcondes says TV still occupies an important place in the company’s communications. “I still believe in TV to support innovation. It’s all about driving fast awareness. This is exactly what you need when you’re launching something new to the market.

“Nowadays, that’s the beginning of the conversation. We need to have TV and we need to go way beyond that because either we are part of the conversation or we’re irrelevant. I cannot allow this to happen to our brands or to our categories.”

This segment is from CMO Growth Council presented by the ANA and Cannes Lions. Beet.TV coverage is sponsored by the FreeWheel Council for Premium Video. Please find more videos from the series here.