Strong backing for Export lager

I was pleased to see you recognise the significance of the relaunch of Carlsberg Export in your News Analysis (MW July 16). The feature combines a number of opinions, which you are entitled to, with some factual errors, which should be corrected.

You assert that Carlsberg-Tetley “has lagged far behind its rivals”, however, we set a trend with the successful relaunch of Carlsberg lager in 1996 that has since been followed by both Foster’s and Carling.

In addition, I am not aware that any major brewers have actually “replaced their standard lager with premium versions”.

In the off trade, an area where you say we have had a problem, our figures indicate that sales of Carlsberg lager for June 1998 during the World Cup were double those of June 1997 and have multiplied fivefold since the brand’s relaunch – if only all marketers had such problems!

Indeed, while your off trade contacts were questioning the shelf stand out of the new Carlsberg Export, a broader and perhaps better informed sample were polled by Supermarketing, and the relaunched brand has been awarded “top performer” in its spring poll.

We are delighted that having “muddled along”, Carlsberg Lager is now number three and growing strongly in the on trade and Carlsberg Export is in the same position without having been actively promoted, until now!

Niall O’Keefe

Marketing controller for lagers Carlsberg-Tetley

Northampton

These are not factual errors, but widely held views in the drinks industry.

Carlsberg-Tetley has lagged behind rival brewers by not promoting a premium lager, one of the major growth areas in a declining beer market of recent years.

Since launching Heineken Export, Whitbread has done little to promote the standard Heineken Lager Beer, and the premium version has in effect replaced the standard in Whitbread’s promotional portfolio. O’Keefe himself says Heineken “sacrificed” standard lager.

Carlsberg Lager may have sold well in the take-home trade during June – if you can’t sell beer during the World Cup, when can you? Of course, the design effectiveness of the Carlsberg Export bottles is open to debate, though the buyers questioned by MW found it less striking than its rivals – Editor.

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