Can you please give an overview of your brand?

Carlsberg is an international brand with more than 170-years of heritage and is famous all around the world for making great quality beers. However, the past few years hasn’t been without challenges for Carlsberg in the UK. We’ve said that we’ve ‘lost our way’. We became the cheapest beer, not the best – and as a result, we were contributing to driving value out of the market. Something needed to change so we have completely rebrewed Carlsberg in the UK from ‘head to hop’ (as we like to say) in order to create a crisper, fuller flavour.

The relaunch of Carlsberg Danish Pilsner in the UK was two years in the making with every consumer touch-point of the brand refreshed – from a new beer to new packaging, glassware, fount and pack formats. Also, for the first time in the UK, Pilsner was available in a new, innovative packaging solution, Snap Pack, which replaces unpopular plastic rings by gluing the cans together.

How is your brand currently performing?

We’re seeing some great performance in the on-trade market. And while the standard lager category is declining, Carlsberg Danish Pilsner is growing.

At the same time, consumers are reacting favourably to our Snap Pack packaging.

In the off-trade, the reality is slightly different. We’ve had a positive customer reaction but there are also some challenges around our new pack formats that we have introduced to attract new drinking demographics. By moving away from the 440ml can format, we inadvertently alienated some of our more loyal shoppers. For that reason, we’ve reviewed our pack strategy and I’m very happy to say that we will be bringing back our 440ml cans in addition to the newer 330ml size. Another part of the reason is that whilst we have been trying to premiumise, the market has been in decline, with some of the big players investing heavily in their brands.

That said, we’re just at the start of our journey, and generally we are seeing an uplift in brand consideration, brand preference, quality attributes, the recommendation score, and word of mouth increase. And I’m very pleased about the recognition we have received with our Pilsner overhaul – from being named one of the top brands of 2019 by the Drum to our Carlsberg Danish Pilsner campaign being voted as the best marketing campaign of 2019 by Marketing Week readers.

Do you have any new product development to talk about?

Carlsberg Danish Pilsner and Snap Pack has been our primary focus and we’ll continue our investment into this year.

Earlier this month we launched a new brand, Carlsberg Nordic – our newest alcohol-free brand. So, what that means for us is that now we have a truly excellent portfolio of Carlsberg beers, including, our perfectly balanced Danish Pilsner, our distinctively richer, maltier brew Carlsberg Expørt, our richer, deeper, unique tasting lager Special Brew, and our alcohol-free variant Carlsberg Nordic.

How are you supporting the new NPD?

The launch of the new and improved Carlsberg Danish Pilsner relaunch was backed by a £20 million advertising spend. This kicked off with a social media campaign promoting mean tweets, OOH to support the buzz on social, and a 30 second Carlsberg Danish Pilsner adverts starring the Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen.

Carlsberg Snap PackLooking ahead, this year will see continued investment in Carlsberg Danish Pilsner in the UK in order to drive wider trial and reappraisal of the brand. In my opinion, we are looking at some fantastic plans for this year. And without unveiling too much, we have some exciting plans to launch a large-scale, heavy weight media campaign focused on the new brew. At the same time, we also want to drive availability of the full portfolio through high quality music events and sponsorships. For example, this summer is the 50th anniversary of the Glastonbury music festival and we are definitely looking to make some noise at this iconic event.

How important are independent retailers to your brand?

I’d say having your brand available in any retailer is really important. That said, Brits are increasingly choosing to shop at smaller retailers. In the off-trade, the growth of beer is being driven by a trend towards smaller, more frequent top-up shops. Independent retailers serve as local convenient stores critical for those last-minute impulse and top up purchases. That’s why being available at the point of purchase in these shops is extremely important for driving value into our brands and growth in standard, world, premium and craft.

What trends are occurring in the sector that retailers should be aware of?

Craft typically seems to dominate this area, but at its core the most significant change has been the evolution of consumer values. Customers want brands with authenticity and heritage. Combined with the rise in consciousness in moderation and growing importance of sustainable products, this has created demand for brands with purpose and quality.

The trend I mentioned earlier towards more frequent top-up shops is also driving a move towards smaller pack formats that are better suited to these shopping moments.

Also, alcohol-free continues to drive interest in beer and draw shoppers in from other categories. At Carlsberg UK, we have seen increasing popularity in our low and alcohol-free offerings – San Miguel 0.0%, Brooklyn Special Effects (0.4%) and the latest addition to the range, Carlsberg Nordic – and these are only likely to get more attractive.

What three words would you use to describe your brand?

Brave, Responsible, Authentic.

Brave because we’ve changed the way our product has been made for decades – even when it costs us more to do so. And then for turning our most valuable asset, our tagline, upside down.

Responsible in terms of taking responsibility for the environment. Carlsberg was the first beer brand in the UK to rollout a more sustainable packaging – this include the Snap Pack and a new bottle with Cradle to Cradle certified ink on the label.

Authentic because Carlsberg is a brand with more than 170 years of heritage. We have always stayed true to our Danish roots and the promise of pursuing better without settling for immediate gain.