Following the meteoric success of hard seltzers in the US, Carlsberg wants to be an early pioneer for the category in other markets.
The Danish brewer has launched Garage Hard Seltzer in Norway and Somersby Hard Seltzer in Singapore.
It is currently evaluating these launches (Garage, for example, is performing ahead of expectations) and the potential of hard seltzer launches in other markets.
Pandemic strategy: Extra speed for low-calorie & low-alcohol
In February, Carlsberg announced its intention to enter the hard seltzer category with pilot launches in 2020.
And despite the disruption posed by the pandemic – and a general move to reduce SKUs and simplify the supply chain - it powered ahead with the launch of two new hard seltzer products in May.
Stephanie Illgner, marketing director brews and beyond for Carlsberg Group, said that with consumers increasingly concerned about health and wellness, innovation in this area has been revved up.
“We adapted very rapidly to the changed market environment and put extra speed on our new and innovative low-calorie or low-alcohol variants that were already in the pipeline,” Illgner told BeverageDaily.
"There’s Garage in Norway, Somersby in Singapore, but also Tuborg launched its 0,0% alcohol-free Tuborg ZERO in Denmark on 1 May as well. After a month only, it was the bestselling 0,0% beer in Denmark.
“In general, we want to ensure that we offer a deliberate choice for those who champion a healthier lifestyle in all markets during this pandemic.”
In Norway, Garage Hard Seltzer launched in two flavors - lemon & lemongrass, and raspberry - both with an ABV of 4.5% and featuring a ‘refreshing taste of natural fruit flavor’. Each 330ml can contains less than 100 calories.
Illgner said Norway was chosen as a pilot market because of its existing focus on sugar-free drinks.
“In Norway, more sugar-free soft drinks are now sold than soft drinks with sugar, and low-calorie beer varieties have become very popular in recent years. For Carlsberg, it is therefore interesting to see how such a low-calorie product is received in Norway.”
Garage Hard Seltzer is tracking better than expected against Carlsberg’s 12 month plan for the launch. The hard seltzer category is still very much in its infancy in Norway – accounting for just 5% of RTD alcohol - but Carlsberg says the first signs for Garage Hard Seltzer are encouraging – it now has a 30% market share of the (albeit small) segment.
Meanwhile, Somersby has launched its first hard seltzer in Singapore.
“Somersby Hard Seltzer is a great opportunity to elevate Somersby and create something more than just a cider, which is what Somersby was always about," said Illgner. "The combination of a sure-fire hit with active, easy-going people who do not want stronger spirit-based drinks or very sweet alcopops is a perfect fit for Somersby.”