Carlsberg brand refreshes

There was a worldwide event last week that was kinda held simultaneously in many countries – the global relaunch of the Carlsberg lager brand, on April 6, 2011, after a two-year process.

Slightly changed logo

To relaunch an established brand is a major and uncommon step. The Carlsberg Group saw it necessary to reposition and elevate their image. The all-malt lager’s sales was said to not always measure up to its brand recognition.

It felt the brand is undervalued, and there’s a new, standardized tagline now in all 140 markets (except Sweden) – “That calls for a Carlsberg.”

Out goes “Probably the best beer in the world.” This is the first global marketing campaign by a brewer.

Not sure how a global, uniform look and image will pan out if it’s not localized for cultural variances. Surprisingly, Carlsberg lager accounts for only 10% of Carlsberg group’s sales, with most sales coming from local brews that it owns.

However, this is not the case in Malaysia as there’re very few local beers. In most countries, local brands dominate, like Laos, where Beer Lao holds a 99% share!

Global brewers face several marketing issues, the main one being their same beer brand having different images in different countries.

Simpler & vertical

The relaunch in Malaysia took place at Carlsberg Brewery, Shah Alam. The visual identity has only been slightly altered. No change in the Carlsberg wordmark itself, but the logo (crown) now has an embossed look.

The small bottle and newish cans are maintained, the large bottle is significantly changed, following the more modern look of the small bottle.

The delivery trucks have a new look too

It comes at a good time for Carlsberg Malaysia, whose local revenue growth here has not been as impressive as competitor Guinness Anchor Bhd, GAB.

I guess the brewery rivalry i posted about’s gonna get more interesting.

No doubt, Carlsberg’s trying to look and feel younger and more relevant. With the number of beer brands and styles out there, consumers are more exposed and have many choices. And alcohol consumers now are gettin more adventurous, and choosy as well.

Also the staple income from being one of the ‘default’ beers at pubs and bars is not guaranteed anymore. Thus, the need for stronger branding. However, this needs to be balanced for the small town drinkers, coffee-shop dudes, and JB-type hill-billies, who are a significant market.

Chicks at Carlsberg's lounge. It's a real cool spot. O yea, that's the new large bottle

Will the tagline catch? Sounds kinda long.

This also means the end of Carlsberg’s “Nice One” campaign. Carlsberg Malaysia’s MD Soren Ravn says “This is the most ambitious re-launch in the Carlsberg Group history. We have high expectations on the outcome.”

Soren of Carlsberg Malaysia

“We have a strong belief that the brand has the potential to grow to a lot more than what it is today.”

Carlsberg global, the fourth largest brewer in the world, is pretty ambitious – it plans to double revenue within 4 years. I hope its not done primarily via ‘premiumization’.

I wish them all d best.


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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