Carling’s ‘laddish’ marketing lifts sales

Carling’s return to the laddish humour it became know for in the 1990s in its advertising has helped reverse declining sales, according to industry data.

Off-trade sales across the Carling beer portfolio – Carling, Carling Zest and Carling Chrome – rose 4.7 per cent to £323m in the 52 weeks to the 29 March, according to shopper intelligence firm IRI, following a 6.7 per cent drop between 2012 and 2013.

The growth was entirely driven by the master brand, which increased sales by 6.2 per cent to £310.8m, as sales of the variants dipped in the period.   

The improved sales follow Carling’s decision to break away from the premiumisation the category has come to be associated with in recent years and return to the more blokeish positioning it dropped in 2011. Carling unveiled the strategy last May in an attempt to appeal what it describes are the younger, “iphone generation” of drinkers.

The nationwide push spanned the full Carling portfolio, growing its share of the beer market by 7 per cent (value share) and 8.7 per cent (volume share) in the period. 

Douglas Millington, business insights director at IRI, says the strategy has lifted demand for the brand after a period of slow sales, but warns heavy in-store promotional support is stunting value sales.

He adds: “The challenge for Carling is to replicate its volume sales performance in value sales. This will be a challenge since promotional support for the [standard cans] has resulted in a lower average price for the case in the last year compared to the previous year.”

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