The Norwegian beer scene is dominated by Carlsberg, but there are still a few family controlled breweries who dominate their home regions and compete in the national market. I have no access to their internal strategies, but there has been a discussion in a Norwegian online forum about one of them recently.
Reflecting on this, there are some questions facing breweries like Mack and Aass. They are facing one of the most aggressive brewing empires on the planet, and they should use their resources wisely to keep their market shares and their profit margins.
So, what would I do?
- Prune the beer list. Get rid of some of the relabeled pilsners celebrating the seasons or some region or another.
- Set up a micro brewery or brewpub to test new beers. Mack has already done this, let’s hope they follow this up when they hire new staff. This lets you try out whatever you want, without needing to worry about the 4.7 % limit to beers being sold in supermarkets.
- Some drinkers are put off by beer tasting of beer. They will probably be the same as the ones wanting low carb as well. OK. Make one beer without calories and flavout, not half a dozen.
- Be daring. For the rest, try to tempt them into trying something new. Establish a reference group of drinkers who want to be involved. Use the labels and cans to say that this has more flavour, but be honest. Using caramel color is not enough! Be inspired by English beers with low alcohol content and lots of flavour.
- Make sure you have a graphic profile which identifies the brewery clearly and communicates that you are are the ones with the tasty beer.
- Stick with the graphic profile for a while – spend some money on what’s inside the bottle rather than outside.
- Consider brewing more strong beers, inspired by breweries in other countries. They will not have a huge volume, but you already have the distribution channels, so use them. These beers can be the flagships where you show what you are really able to do! Maybe canned quality beer – there is not much on the market right now.
- Look at the Christmas beers – they are not extreme by any means, but they show that there is a market for premium beers despite all the efforts to get rid of them!