Carlsberg's sustainable packaging: A toast to consumers' social consciousness?

Carlsberg has refreshed its packaging and look, with a series of "practical betterments" to deliver an even better beer enjoyment experience. The move seems to be made to appeal to a new generation of "ever more sophisticated" beer drinkers, said the company in a press release.

The new packaging boasts a "Fresh Cap" on bottles that claims to keep beer fresh longer and beer packs that have an additional tear perforation for easy opening. Additionally, it has started using a Cradle to Cradle certified silver ink on its bottle label that is produced using renewable energy to improve recyclability and applying a new coating of wax emulsion concentrate to its refillable glass bottles to double its lifetime.

In a statement to Marketing, a Carlsberg spokesperson said this new packaging refresh comes eight years after its old one in 2011. To ensure uniformity, the new packaging was implemented in all markets simultaneously. It was a joint effort by Carlsberg in-house team and design agencies in the United Kingdom.

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"Every aspect was carefully re-crafted to strike the perfect balance between form and function, to ensure its improved look without compromising on the consumer experience. The teams sat together and deliberated on how best to present Carlsberg in a refreshed manner, while honouring and preserving the brand's rich heritage," added the spokesperson.

Meanwhile, to bring the new beer experience to customers locally, Carlsberg has launched a pop-up at Plaza Singapura’s atrium offering free glasses of beers to the public. To ramp up its marketing efforts in Singapore, it is also running an ad campaign to communicate "the betterment story" through various touch points, including social, digital, TV, Cinema, OOH and radio. The campaign will run all the way up to October.

Sustainability drive

Landor president SE Asia Pacific & Japan Nick Foley said the demand for less wasteful packaging is on the rise, making Carlsberg latest packaging "delightfully ingenuitive". He explained: "Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned that governments are only paying lip service to sustainability. In an environment of low trust, consumers look to brands to make the difference."

While simple, Foley said the sustainable packaging will no doubt earn the company greater loyalty from current and future consumers, particularly with the younger generation who value brands that "do good". On the other hand, he said the move also benefit Carlsberg on the business front by saving cost.

Packaging should only be changed if there is a consumer or commercial benefit. In this instance, Carlsberg tick the box on both of these measures.

Foley added that marketers should be wary of subtle pack changes, as consumers who do not see a benefit to a packaging change are unlikely to change the status quo.

Subtlety works

JKR head of strategy Katie Ewer said while the redesign is not something that most consumers would have noticed if it had not been pointed out, being subtle works for Carlsberg in this instance. She added:

Carslberg feels like a more quality lager as a result of this rebrand.

"The changes are incredibly subtle – small improvements to the crest, the word mark and the hop leaf, together with the renewed emphasis on the provenance claim of Denmark," she explained.



Adding on, she said that the of tangible structural pack improvements in tandem with the graphic refresh gives the brand a story to tell in a campaign, and a reason to celebrate the new branding at the same time.

Ewer added: "I’m not convinced that any of us choose our beer brands based on rational aspects such as the oxygen absorption in the cap or the wax emulsion grade on the packs, but these functional stories do provide us with reasons to justify our completely illogical and irrational belief that somehow, even if we’re not sure quite why, Carlsberg seems like a more modern, quality beer."

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Speaking to Marketing, antics@play ECD Shawn Mak said Carlsberg's move comes on the back on increasing attention on how beer brands look as the beer scene matures. The refresh marks a departure from the past where consumers were only concerned with flavours.

Beer brands, according to him, have been getting innovative, rolling out the likes of compostable six-pack rings, AR labels, edible labels, and even cans as game controllers. In the case of Carlsberg, Mak said it is sensibile for the brand to opt for practical product and packaging innovation.

Had the redesign of the Carlsberg identity been "off-the-rails", it could potentially "alienate loyalists" given the brand is a heritage brand which is already established since 1846. Added with the sustainability factor, Mak said the redisgn will not just appeal to taste buds but will also "bait consumer curiosity" and "call out to consumers' Instagram photo wall", and of course, some degree your social consciousness.

Mak also lauded Carlsberg for thinking along the lines of what will delight its consumers, such as helping them get to their beer faster. He said, "Packaging is after all, the fulfilment of that one final step between you and consumption. In the world of brand, I’d say it’s everything."

However, while people may purchase based on design, Mak said it still boils down to the quality of the product to retain consumers in the long term.

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