Carlsberg UK announced today in a press statement to replace the existing Carlsberg 0.0% Alcohol Free brand by Carlsberg Nordic, an alcohol-free pilsner. While the brewer did not cite any reasons for the move, it can be assumed that consumer tests have shown a preference for the new brand.
Carlsberg Nordic still contains 0.5% alcohol and has therefore a fuller taste. It is “specifically brewed as an alcohol-free beer” as opposed to Carlsberg 0.0%, which is brewed more like a normal beer from which the alcohol is removed after fermentation. However, the dealcoholization process not only removes the alcohol, which is a flavor carrier as well but also other important aroma components.
Carlsberg 0.0% was launched in 2015 in the UK and has been a success as the whole market for non-alcoholic beers was rapidly expanding. However, the success has attracted new players to the market and the proliferation of non-alcoholic beers brands has not passed unnoticed by Carlsberg.
Liam Newton, Vice President Marketing at Carlsberg UK, comments: “The Alcohol-Free category has seen a huge growth in the last few years as consumers seek to moderate their consumption without comprising on the taste of their beer. As a result, more people are opting for alcohol-free drinks, but they don’t want their choices to be limited. That’s why we are delighted to bring them a new choice for 2020 that is uncompromising on taste, quality and enjoyment. Carlsberg Nordic has already been a great success in Denmark, with a great selection of alcohol-free beers within the portfolio, so we are confident it will be equally successful in the UK.”
Carlsberg was early to identify alcohol free beers as a driver for growth but the group was lacking for the time being a global strategy with a uniform brand. “Our alcohol-free brews mainly consist of local brands such as Baltika 0 in Russia, Munkholm in Norway, and Nordic in Denmark,” Carlsberg’s President & CEO Cees ‘t Hart said at an earnings call last August.
So far it was believed that the company’s flagship brew was Carlsberg 0.0%. However, the replacement of Carlsberg 0.0 through Carlsberg Nordic in the U.K. might point out that the latter is the rising star within the Carlsberg world and could also be positioned in other markets against global brands like Heineken 0.0.
On the other hand, the replacement of Carlsberg 0.0% could also be a desperate attempt to regain market share. The Danish brewer has seen stiff competition in the UK not only with its non-alcoholic but also with its alcoholic beers. A sharp decline in market share has been answered last year by a brave new marketing campaign where Carlsberg admits that it is probably not the best beer in the world any more.
"At Carlsberg UK, we lost our way,” Newton said in April. “We focused on brewing quantity, not quality; we became one of the cheapest, not the best. In order to live up to our promise of being ‘probably the best beer in the world’, we had to start again. We’ve completely rebrewed Carlsberg from head to hop” (inside.beer, 16.4.2019).