Carlsberg IO_06200

Could it be third time lucky for Carlsberg? The maker of “probably the best lager in the world” has found low & no to be tricky market since entering it eight years ago.

It’s just taken its third stab at non-alcoholic beer, bringing back Carlsberg 0.0 after a three-year absence.

The brew was originally added in summer 2015 – albeit with a different recipe than the relaunch.

In January 2020, it was replaced by the better tasting Nordic 0% abv pilsner – which itself was quietly withdrawn just a year later, having achieved value of only £29.3k across the mults [NIQ 52 w/e 15 May 2021].

In an interview with The Grocer in May 2021, Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company CEO Paul Davies suggested Nordic’s concept wasn’t clear enough to consumers.

Now the revived Carlsberg 0.0 has hit shelves, marketed as a “great-tasting beer alternative” that’s “specifically brewed as an alcohol-free beer”.

It’s in Tesco, priced at £3 for a four-pack of 330ml bottles, and will join Ocado later in the spring.

Carlsberg VP for the off-trade sales Chris Pratt says the brewer hopes to attract consumers less familiar with low & no drinks.

And healthy competition between brewers can only benefit the category by raising awareness and increasing consumer choice, he adds.

Industry experts are split on the prospects for Carlsberg 0.0, however.

“The former product was a little underwhelming, so I’m not surprised it is trying to make another 0% version,” says Brand Nursery director Chris Blythe. “That’s what I’d expect from a brand that is trying to stay true to its core proposition.”

The fortunes of Carlsberg’s latest lager will depend on shoppers being willing to give the brand another chance, he adds.

Elliot Wilson, strategy director at The Cabinet branding agency, is more sceptical.

He points to a saturated market and the dominance of established names like Peroni, Heineken and Asahi. Then there are challenger brands such as Lucky Saint and Big Drop, which have leveraged craft values for taste and personality.

This is something big brands lack, Wilson believes – and Carlsberg has yet to offer shoppers a compelling reason to switch from their existing choices.

Should 0.5% drinks be called alcohol-free? Low & no category report 2023