GAB vs Carlsberg Malaysia

The Big Two are the players in the country’s beer industry (aka malt liquor market). And looks like Guinness Anchor Bhd (GAB) is pulling away from traditional leader Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd (CBMB). (The other small one is Napex, producer of Jaz lager and Starker ale.)

The beer battle is pretty hot

Surprisingly, to me at least, Carlsberg (the Green Label beer) is still the number one-selling brand of beer in Malaysia. They’re still doin ok in small towns n villages. Tiger (GAB) would be second. When it comes to stout, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (bottle/can) is definitely ahead of the other brand, Danish Royal Stout (CBMB), which is virtually unknown to the urban crowd.

And in draught, Guinness trashes Connors (CBMB). I dont even know why Connors is around. Nothing seems to have been done to market it, or even introduce it.

Tiger’s doin well here, with a growth rate of 20% a year. So is Heineken. Put together, these two GAB brands are outselling Carlsberg Green Label now.

(Graphic from Star Online)

But i gotta say i really like some of the beers Carlsberg Malaysia imports, especially Franziskaner and Konig Ludwig. Great stuff. These bottled beers are getting more common, and outlets are starting to have ’em on tap as well.

I foresee more Malaysians going for non-lager beers like these. When Hoegaarden was still being sold mostly in bottles and not draft a few years ago, i foresaw that it had potential to go mainstream. And it has in quite a big way, tho its highly over-priced. I did make such a suggestion to Carlsberg’s assistant brand manager at that time, and also said that the female market is a huge one that should be attacked via Hoegaarden.

No idea if i’ll be right bout these other brands. In my opinion, by far the only obstacle they face is the high pricing.

But after having lager virtually forced down our throats for years, it’s time for a breakout.

To be frank, i’m jelak with lager. Bored of it too.

This also affects where people like me hang out, coz GAB-aligned outlets cant sell Carlsberg Malaysia products, and vice-versa. Its silly, but dats d situation we as consumers face.

However, the new laws coming in effect in 2012 could change all this forever.

Unlike Carlsberg Malaysia, GAB is however banking too heavily on lager and stout. But I really hope there’ll be more variety in their range soon.

New players. With potential, i feel

I have always seen Carlsberg as ol skool. Not really in tune with young Malaysians. Pretty much non-existent in social media. (And the same dance track has been playing on their flash-heavy website for two years.)  However, with these new brands, i think CBMB is  making some headway with younger drinkers.

New brands that CBMB introduced over the past coupla years include Blackthorn (cider), Kronenbourg 1664 (lager), Tetley’s (bitter), Savannah (cider), Skol (lager), Asahi (lager), Leffe (ale), Franziskaner and Konig (weissbier aka wheatbeer) – all by CBMB or its subsidiary / importer / distributor Luen Heng Sdn Bhd.

GAB meanwhile came up with Strongbow (cider), Guinness Black (lager), Paulaner (weissbier) and the latest, Newcastle (brown ale).

There was an article in The Star today featuring their financial results and market share. GAB claims 59% of market share and is obviously ahead of Carlsberg, which is estimated to be at 41%. Carlsberg lost the lead five years ago. While it used to battle with Anchor a long time ago, it now faces Tiger (now a Singaporean brand, which is actually a Malayan brand as it began brewing in 1933, before Singapore was a country.)

Carlsberg has been diversifying

Personally i think GAB has done a much better and a more engaging job at marketing compared to CBMB. I foresee their market share increasing, and Tiger overtaking Carlsberg as the best-selling beer pretty soon. And once Carlsberg drinkers die-off in a coupla decades or so, as many of them are the older crowd, Tiger will probably dominate the scene. But there are many variables, including the fact that lager might not be the favoured beer in 20 years. Who knows.

GAB is doin real well

GAB posted a 47% increase in net profit to RM64.6mil from the same quarter a year ago. It’s the biggest first quarter it has ever produced in its history. Thanks mainly to its huge Oktoberfest campaign.

CBMB saw net profit climb 51.7% to RM30.5mil. Its profit was dominated by the performance of Carlsberg Singapore (CBMB acquired it in late 2009). Excluding Carlsberg Singapore, net profit grew 2%.

Both Charles Ireland (MD, GAB) and Soren Ravn (MD, CBMB) are against any excise duty/tax increase for awhile. Maybe they should talk to Alcon then on how best we should approach this issue. I feel all parties should cooperate for long-term advantage and mutual benefit.

GAB kicked ass since 2006 (graphic from Star Online)

Speaking of GAB, their St Patrick’s Festival this year will be KL, in Changkat Bukit Bintang at 6pm next week Thursday (17th). Details here. Might have been better to do it on Saturday evening. It’s a working day and they doin it downtown? Considering the possible traffic chaos, i dont know wattup with that.

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8 thoughts on “GAB vs Carlsberg Malaysia

  1. I say the government should reduce the excise duty/tax on alcohol by at least 50%!

    But then again, who’s gonna pay for the 100 storey mega tower, RM600,000,000 ships and mansions in Australia and Argentina?

    • I know the answer! We are!
      I hope all the major players in the alcohol industry will work together and with Alcon to face this excise issue head-on and rationally.

  2. excellent article, and yah, why is Conners around? Everytime I go to TDH I am reminded again and again on this alignment. I just want my Guinness damnit

    • Tx KY. Yea, its pretty frustrating for drinkers to choose where they drink according to whether its a GAB or Carlsberg outlet. Sometimes i feel like a Guinness, sometimes i feel like a Franziskaner. I would love an outlet with everything where all friends with different tastes can hangout together. Very few bar owners understand this.

  3. Last time drinking outlet can chose to opt for duo brand which means they can serve GAB and Carlsberg but now they can’t anymore. This is how competitive the beer boys in Malaysia and it’s stupid. This is sad and we just have to face it.

    Great article btw:)

    I can relate to this the most coz used to handle GAB account back in my previous company :))

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