Carlsberg UK announces £15m marketing spend

The British arm of the Danish brewer has announced a £15m marketing spend designed to revitalise its flagship brand, Carlsberg Export.

The company is desperate to connect with so-called ‘Millennial drinkers’ (18 to 34-year-olds) who no longer relate to mainstream beer.

The company says over the past five years the number of consumers drinking standard lager has fallen by 1.1m and the number drinking premium lager has fallen by 430,000 (Source: Kantar Alcovision June 2016).

Of all consumers that dropped out, 40% dropped out of all lager and only 16% traded up with world (Kantar Worldpanel lapsed shoppers vs. YA P9 2016). 

Last year, £40 billion was spent on alcohol in the UK. UK consumers drink on average 9.5 litres per person per year but consumption is falling. This is due to fewer people, drinking less on fewer occasions (Source: BBPA Statistical Handbook 2016 and Nielsen and CGA). According to the same source, beer is the nation’s favourite alcoholic drink as 65% of all alcohol consumed is beer.  

The ‘Millennials’ are said to demand authenticity, quality and individual experiences. There are 14.7 million millennial consumers in the UK, according to Carlsberg, but they are influencing the non-millennial big spenders to follow suit. As discerning drinkers, they are willing to trade up, and as such have been driving the premiumisation trend.

Carlsberg UK vice president of marketing, Liam Newton, said: “The fundamental reason for the decline in the beer category is the fact the biggest segments – standard and premium lager – are losing relevance with millennial consumers. In our eyes, the dramatic change in the UK beer market requires bold action, and an even bolder approach, and this lies at the heart of our revitalisation of Carlsberg.

“Standard and premium lagers recruit new drinkers, and if consumers don’t enter through these segments, it is unlikely they will move into world and craft. This means brands like Carlsberg and premium beers like Carlsberg Export remain vital to the long-term health of the entire beer category,” said Newton.

From January 2017 Carlsberg Export will have a new design that is said to reflect the brand’s Danish heritage and reinforce its premium credentials. All consumer ‘touch points’ have been refreshed – including a new bar font and glassware, through to a new premium 330ml-sized bottle. The new design has been influenced by the cross from the Danish flag, while the signature of founder, JC Jacobsen, and the word ‘København’ – Danish for Copenhagen – underline the brand’s roots.

The premiumisation of the Carlsberg brand will continue into early summer 2017, when limited edition packaging will be launched for the Carlsberg 3.8% abv beer and the bottle increased to a 330ml size.

Carlsberg said the new approach has been developed following a year-long project comprising exhaustive consumer research, category analysis and trends monitoring. Its aim is to confront the long-term decline seen in the lager category by engaging with the consumer group identified as the most influential and responsible for driving key trends: millennials.

“By reminding people of where Carlsberg comes from and adopting some of the positive attributes from the people of Denmark, we believe we will have a powerful platform from which to connect with millennials in a meaningful way,” says Newton.