FEATURE12 October 2022

In good spirits: Beam Suntory’s agile work and research sharing

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Agile working, how to get the best from agencies in the insight space and the democratisation of knowledge were just some of the topics covered when Colette Doyle spoke to Paul Thomas and David Baxter, part of the insights team at international premium spirits producer Beam Suntory.

Man smelling a small glass of amber coloured alcohol

If you’ve ever enjoyed sipping on a Courvoisier or a 10-year-old Laphroaig whisky, then you are already familiar with the brand portfolio of multinational Beam Suntory. The company employs almost 5, 000 people globally and produces an extensive portfolio of well-known spirit brands.

International insight director Paul Thomas and David Baxter, insights director for the company’s Scotch, Irish and gin brand house, only joined the firm at the end of last year but are already industry stalwarts. Thomas was a director at The Forge and global director at Asahi International prior to that, as well as having worked client-side at drinks multinational Diageo and chocolate manufacturer Ferrero. Baxter, meanwhile, can lay claim to a 12-year stint at Ipsos and was previously global head of consumer insight at Glasgow-based spirits company Edrington.

Turning first to how Beam Suntory successfully managed to weather the pandemic, Thomas notes that one of the key trends in the alcohol sector was premiumisation and the concept of ‘accessible ...