case study:

How can a global beer brand serve a local experience?


Carlsberg Group wanted a strong actionable understanding of the different factors that influence the quality draught beer experience based on deep qualitative insights in different markets and with different stakeholders. IS IT A BIRD set out to investigate the draught beer experience in Europe.


We conducted comprehensive studies across Denmark, France and Italy investigating the workflow of bar staff, and wholesalers, combined with a study of the functional aspects of Carlsberg’s draught beer system. We sipped beer with consumers to figure out why, when and how they chose a draught beer, and what they think of Carlsberg’s product offerings.


Our market specific, culturally unique insights gave Carlsberg Group new knowledge for strategic development in each on-trade market as well as opportunity spaces that points to concrete business initiatives towards customers, consumers and wholesalers. Carlsberg now have a great basis for shaping the future draught beer experience!

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Unpacking the draught beer experience in the European market

the challenge

What factors impact the phenomenon of beer consumption?

As draught beer rapidly rises in popularity, Carlsberg needed to get a better understanding of the key factors that improve the quality of the consumer experience. What are consumers thinking when they glance at the draught beer list? What is it they like about draught beer? On what occasions do they seek draught beer?

Moreover, Carlsberg take a pride in serving good quality draught beer to consumers, but before the product ends up on your table a wholesaler, a manager and a bartender has been part of the equation. So how does this impact the quality experience? With our ethnographic toolbox and our beer-loving hearts we travelled to several bars and restaurants to explore every aspect.

the approach

Exploring a variety of channels and user groups, we visited venues serving draught beer in Denmark, France and Italy across categories of dining, traditional pubs, live music venues and trendy bars.

We conducted in-depth interviews with staff, bartenders and wholesalers, and observed their interactions with consumers. With consumers, we used ‘sense of place’ exercises in order to understand the nuances of their relationship to and assumptions around draught beer, who drinks it, and when.

We also studied the staff activity in the back end of the venues in order to understand how kegs are changed, system cleaning procedures, and other more technical aspects of dealing with a draught system. We used video and a truth-need-friction format to communicate our insights.

The Result

We provided Carlsberg with new consumer insights on the cultural position of draught beer and its value as a beverage in each on-trade market and suggested specific strategic battles that could leverage existing strategies.

We used customer journeys to contextualize the draught beer experience and pinpoint key touchpoints at the point of sales. These have become input for further development of internal guidelines on pouring and serving.

Our deep insights across several stakeholders and three markets has been valuable input for Carlsberg to keep giving consumers a draught beer experience in line with their consumption needs and beverage perceptions.


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