The Carlsberg Group’s digital transformation is this year’s case in one of the world's largest case competitions

Global 2019 is CBS Case Competition’s response to an increasingly digitalised world, and the subject of the challenge is Carlsberg’s digital transformation, part of the brewery group’s seven-year SAIL’22 strategy.

For a number of years, the Carlsberg Group has been an honorary partner of Copenhagen Business School’s annual CBS Case Competition, which is one of the largest university case competitions for undergraduates, attracting students from top universities around the world. 

After 16 years, CBS Case Competition has crystallised into a new format of online interaction for the spring 2019 competition. More than 3,000 undergraduate students from 61 countries have signed up to participate in the Global 2019 online competition through CBS Case Competition’s own online platform. 

Through Global 2019, the students will contribute ideas and concepts for how Carlsberg can further leverage digital innovation to disrupt the on-trade scene and transform its partnership with bars, restaurants and cafes in Western Europe. The top three teams will be invited to Copenhagen to compete in the finals.

The Carlsberg Group believes that digital has a powerful role to play in fueling its traditional business with innovative growth opportunities and smart operational efficiencies. 

"From a strategic perspective, the rationale to invest in digital products and services is simple: if Carlsberg is able to provide insightful and valuable experiences and services to its customers alongside its great beer and beverage portfolio, it will enhance Carlsberg's value as a successful, professional and attractive business partner and not just as a legendary brewery group,” says Nancy Cruickshank, Senior Vice President, Digital Transformation. 

"We're investing heavily in digital transformation activities across our business and we were intrigued by the Global 2019 online competition to learn how the world’s best undergraduate students would prioritise if they ran this brewery group. We want to learn from digital natives how they would address high-impact, strategically important areas with multi-market potential, such as customer engagement, distribution or e-commerce. The goal is to improve Carlsberg’s competitive position, and to stay at the forefront of innovation within our industry,’’ says Nancy Cruickshank. 

Carlsberg’s digital initiatives are known as “lighthouse projects”, a nod to the Group’s heritage and its founder’s mentality. Electric lighting was introduced in the brewery in 1882 at a time when it was still not widely available in Copenhagen, and founder J.C. Jacobsen built an electrically powered lighthouse for everyone to be inspired by the brewery’s aim of using science and innovation to always do things better.  

Unlike the incubator model used by many large corporations, in which small teams are tasked with disrupting traditional business almost as an external start-up, the lighthouse projects are intended  to be deeply embedded in the brewery group. This is to ensure the relevance of the business issue in question, and to minimise integration and roll-out difficulties. 

One of the projects already rolled out in markets such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the UK and lately also Switzerland is Carlsberg Online. With Carlsberg Online, the Carlsberg Group became an international front-runner on the brewery scene, which is still characterised by being relatively analogue. In addition to online ordering, the team behind Carlsberg Online is constantly expanding the platform, improving content with do-it-yourself videos and providing insights never before available for on-trade customers on markets, consumer behaviours, new trends etc. 

Another significant project is the digitalisation of Carlsberg’s new keg system, DraughtMaster™. The compact system uses compression rather than CO2, which improves the quality of the beer and keeps it fresh for up to 30 days, compared to less than a week with the old steel keg system. The increased durability ensures much greater variation and thus increases sales. The digitalisation of DraughtMaster™ has a detailed roll-out plan based on learnings from tests carried out at outlets in Berlin. The digital improvements are data-driven and insights are available online. The aim is to optimise on-trade customers’ performance and boost revenue through insights from data, keg levels and spillage reports as well as direct 24/7 support access. By the end of march, pilots will be up and running in Copenhagen, Malmo and Milan. 

By participating in the CBS Case Competition, Carlsberg aims to harness even more innovative ideas that can potentially be applied to the business, while providing an opportunity for students to apply theory to a real-life business case.

Watch the case intro here:


Please address enquiries to:

Head of Group External Communications

Kenni Leth

Tel +45 51 71 43 68 Email [email protected]