Ole Petter Wie, the manager of Carlsberg-owned Ringnes brewery, by far the biggest actor on the Norwegian beer market, has ambitions. Big ambitions. He wants the profits margins to increase from 10 per cent today to 15 per cent in a few years.
He boldly proclaims in an interview with Dagens Næringsliv (not online) that he aims to introduce 40-50 new types of beer and soft drinks while removing brands with low sales or low margins.
Ringnes will focus on developing three market segments:
- The woman segment. A number of new beers to make women choose beer instead of wine and cocktails. Some of those will be imported, others will be brewed in Norway.
- Beer without alcohol
- Super premium beers. Sales of beers in the upper price and quality level constitutes five per cent of the market today. Import beers dominate this. Wie says Ringnes wants to increase the share to ten per cent. This segment leads to increased beer consumption and is very profitable, both for the sales outlets and for us.
So. what do I make of this?
Dozens of new beers sounds fine, but I fear this will be more of the same. We have already seen the first of the imports. Three Brooklyn beers (the most mundane of the lot), Stella, two types of Leffe. While the smaller players are importing craft beers from around the world right under their noses, the marketing men of the big players seem to think that super premium means more pale lagers in fancy packaging.
As for the alcohol free beers, they tried to launch six of them about five years ago. They sank without a trace.
The female segment? With an advertising ban, it’s hard to move into new markets. I suspect there will be more soft lagers in fancy bottles again.
No reason for the guys at Nøgne Ø top lose any sleep over the Ringnes strategy!