Carlsberg puts innovation and revitalisation at the heart of its plans
Carlsberg UK has radically overhauled its portfolio in the past couple of years and it now feels it can compete in the burgeoning world and craft beer sectors.
It has been busy revitalising the core Carlsberg and Carlsberg Export brands, with Casino Royale star Mads Mikelson leading the charge via TV ads, but intrigue lies elsewhere in the stable of brands.
San Miguel is now the number one world beer brand in impulse and in the on-trade, and it hit the number one spot in supermarkets at Christmas. Mahou, Spain’s bestselling beer, is being seeded to further its footprint in the sector.
Brooklyn lager and Brooklyn Scorcher are both enjoying strong off-trade growth and a new Brooklyn mixed tape multipack is apparently doing well in Asda and Ocado.
It has now released the first three beers under the London Fields brand it snapped up last year after bringing in the former brewer of Redchurch and Beavertown to head up the project. The range now comprises a pale ale, a hoppy wheat bear and a lager.
Chief executive Julian Momen said: “We needed to revitalise Carlsberg, premiumise our brands and inspire our people. I felt our people had lost the thing that comes from the heart, about brewing and brands, and I think we have done a good job of making sure they can talk about our brands from the heart.”
Liam Newton, vice president of marketing, added: “If we had sat in a group three or four years ago and talked about the Carlsberg portfolio, your impression of it perhaps would be quite different to how it’s shaped today. When you look at the brands we have in the portfolio now, it’s a really fantastic mix of brands that are much more competitive.”
It has a pipeline of innovation to maintain category growth, while a revitalisation of the Tetley’s ale brand is imminent as it bids to claw back market share in this area.
When asked if innovation is the best way to keep consumers loyal and to maintain retailer listings, Newton told DRN: “It’s not all about innovation. It’s about renovation and innovation. They both have a role to play. It’s very easy to get carried away with the shiny new toy, and everyone gets excited about it. Everyone is interested in new news. But there’s a balance. You have to get the fundamentals right, particularly on your big brands. You have to get the base brand right before you can start bringing innovation to the market.
“San Miguel is in good health, so we can launch innovation. Tetley’s, we have to get the core right first. It’s a balance. It’s very hard to launch innovation off of brands where the core isn’t healthy.”
The brewer said it appreciates that a lot of the retailers are looking at range rationalisation and keeping ranges tight, so is focusing on the opportunities that will create the most value and ensure that everything has a compelling category proposition.
After the World Cup, Carlsberg is ended its partnership with the England football team so it can invest more in sponsorship of music festivals like Leeds and Reading under the Live Nation banner.
Newton said: “We felt that the market is becoming much more led by experiences, so Live Nation was a richer area for us to invest in. We are starting to see that bear out. “We can do on-pack activities throughout the year. You need to keep the relationship with the festival going throughout the year, through on-pack activities in the off-trade, and with the England partnership there’s less opportunity to do that, because it’s at the spikes of a World Cup or a Euros.
“Carlsberg still has a role with football. We have a big, long-term partnership with Liverpool. We are the official beer partner at eight Premiership football clubs, so that hasn’t gone away. It’s just about emphasis, as Carlsberg needs to evolve into a new space, and we have more opportunity to do that with music festivals.”
Retail value sales of Carlsberg Export are up 9% year on year in the 42 weeks since it was launched (Nielsen).
Marketing controller Lynsey Woods said: “You do not turn around brands overnight, that’s impossible, but we’re connecting with consumers and they’re starting to understand more of who we are. We are changing perceptions, changing behaviour and driving category growth, which is what retailers want to see from us.
“Craft has done wonderful things for beer, but more than 70% of the category is lager. Craft has helped open doors and encourage consumers to try and experience more.”
In June it is launching Carlsberg Unfiltered, whereby the yeast stays in to provide a fuller flavour and Cascade hops add a citrus twist. The beer is aimed at “people that love lager but want something with a little bit more flavour”.