Profile: Don Blaustein '80
Blaustein '80 helps Heineken tap market
Heineken USA President and CEO Don Blaustein '80 started
his career, his father offered him this advice: Pursue what
you love aggressively, passionately and with integrity and
the rest will take care of itself. Since Blaustein's start
in the beer industry 23 years ago, he has taken that advice
to heart, finding his life's work in what he describes as
the "richest, most innovative and dynamic industry."
are so many new and clever things happening in marketing and
sales, so many product innovations and talented people working
in the industry that you can't help but be excited about working
in the beer business," says Blaustein, whose recent promotion
from senior vice president of sales to president of Heineken
USA has given him the opportunity to shape Heineken USA's
Now the fastest growing of the five largest beer
companies in the United States, Heineken USA (HUSA) has worked
hard to capitalize on consumer trends, including those of
people trading up to higher-end and import beers, and trading
over to lighter beer as they become more health conscious.
The company embarked on a highly successful marketing and
advertising campaign for Dos Equis (a brand it distributes),
which played a key role in HUSA's growth in 2007. Also contributing
to the company's success was growth of its flagship Heineken
Lager and the launch in 2006 of Heineken Premium Light, which
many in the company were cautious about introducing, feeling
that a light beer could weaken Heineken's brand image.
amazing story about this is that about 15 years ago, they
started talking about whether introducing a light beer would
adversely impact Heineken's base brand, and the debate raged
for years," says Blaustein. "Finally, the market was right
and we did a test launch before rolling theproduct out nationally.
Both believers and non-believers are happy with the tremendous
success we've had with Heineken Premium Light; in fact, it
actually had a 'halo' effect on the base brand."
his role as sales SVP at HUSA, Blaustein had a considerable
impact on this recent success, playing a role in the launch
of Heineken Premium Light as well as driving sales that contributed
to a 10-year extension of an agreement with the Mexico-based
brewer, FEMSA Cerveza. HUSA is the sole and exclusive importer
of FEMSA's beer brands in the United States, which include
Dos Equis, Tecate and a new Tecate Light, Bohemia and Sol.
This agreement has given the company's portfolio greater geographic
and demographic balance.
achievements at Heineken have their roots in lessons learned
during his Kellogg School education and the five years spent
in the beverage sector of Kraft/General Food Corporation after
he graduated. "Both my experience at Kellogg and at General
Foods provided a wonderful training ground for me," he says.
"I would not be where I am today if I hadn't learned to work
in such collaborative but disciplined environments, surrounded
by knowledgeable professors and associates."
next for Blaustein at Heineken USA? "We've only really started
to scratch the surface of building the premium import light
segment," he says. "We will continue to leverage the success
of Dos Equis and Heineken Premium Light, and to bring to market
innovations like the BeerTender, an elegant countertop appliance
that pours the perfect draft beer using our Heineken and Heineken
Premium Light Draught Kegs."
Blaustein says that while HUSA will always focus
on offering customers new choices, the core business will
remain the same: "bringing high-quality beer to market in
an innovative, engaging and responsible way."