Carlsberg invests £15m in UK relaunch
Looks to premiumise, differentiate Carlsberg Export during 2017
Picking up on current consumer trends, Carlsberg UK is to invest £15 million over the coming year to reaffirm that Carlsberg Export is a world brand boasting both a tremendous heritage and Danish authenticity.
Mainstream 3.8% abv Carlsberg isn’t being neglected in this makeover. There’ll be a series of limited edition packaging during the year, again emphasising its rootedness in all things Danish. And its bottled serving size will be increased to 330ml.
Liam Newton, Carlsberg UK’s vice-president of marketing, explained “In all the work we’ve done to explore how we make Carlsberg Export stand apart from other mainstream beers, it was driven largely by this celebration of Danish provenance that we’re doing as part of this relaunch. And in all of the design work that came out of that, that kind of understated premium design cue, typically from Danish design, influenced where we went.”
To that end Export will no longer be dressed in Carlsberg Green but in distinctive shades of what might be described as cinnamon brown. And all consumer ‘touch points’ are being refreshed, including a new bar font and glassware, along with a new premium 330ml sized bottle.
As to why this is being undertaken, there are now well-established consumer trends that should be giving brewers and marketers of international lager brands sleepless nights. It’s something readily acknowledged by Carlsberg UK, with it citing market research from Kantar Alcovision that has found the number of adults drinking standard lagers has fallen by around 1.1 million over the last five years. The numbers are similarly worrying for premium lagers with a loss of 430,000 drinkers over the same period.
“The per capita consumption of alcohol in the UK is in long-term decline, not just beer but when you look at beer, wine and spirits together,” noted Newton. “There are fewer people drinking, they’re drinking on fewer occasions and they’re drinking less when they go out. So the implications for all of us within the drinks industry are quite profound.”
The upside, something that Carlsberg is looking to capitalise on with this relaunch, is that when they do drink many consumers are trading up, premiumising their choices. That said, again from the same Kantar doom mongers, only a minority of those who dropped out of standard and premium lagers traded up to ‘world’ brands.
While the specifics of the above-the-line advertising campaign have yet to be revealed, Export’s once famous tagline, ‘so good that Danes hate to see it leave’ won’t be making a comeback.
But the better known ‘probably the best beer in the world’ will be in the creative – and while it readily identifies the Carlsberg brand, it increasingly poses issues in communicating premium cues.
As Newton explains, “That’s one of the most memorable advertising lines in the world, certainly in the UK, and something that we want to keep because it’s a great asset for us. But I think in a way it’s starting to overshadow what people understand about Carlsberg.
“When we ask consumers what they know about Carlsberg beyond the advertising, there’s not a lot there. People don’t know that our roots are in Denmark. They don’t know that there’s 170 years of brewing history and heritage.
“And so what I think we need to do with the advertising is to try to make sure that it helps us to celebrate actually how good our beers genuinely are so it’s just not seen as an advertising line but actually gives meaning to that phrase so people actually respect the brews perhaps more than they do at the moment.”
What Carlsberg isn’t looking at is a simplification of the Carlsberg brands – while Heineken ditched its standard strength variant in favour of its global standard premium strength product in the UK years ago, Carlsberg is to continue with standard and premium strength variants.
It may not seem like an unusual arrangement but as a multinational brewer it is for Carlsberg. Only in one, other market, Sweden, is there a standard-strength version positioned alongside its premium strength flagbearer.
The twin-track approach to Carlsberg in the UK will continue, said Newton, because there are different consumer needs in standard and premium lager areas.
He added, “I think when you look at what we’ve done with Export now, to premiumise it and make it stand further apart from Carlsberg the core brand, I think even more so they are better equipped in the future to satisfy those different needs in different ways.”
Conversely, there’s no thought to launching further Carlsberg brand extensions, as has been the case in recent years with competitor Stella Artois in Britain.
“When you’re managing a portfolio of brands, every new thing that you introduce obviously adds a huge amount of complexity,” he commented.” I think has to work hard to stand alone on its own feet so we’re not looking at that at the moment, in terms of additional extensions under the Carlsberg brand.”