Business Challenge

The mainstream lager category is in decline and the only way to grow in a declining category is to drive consumer choice over the competition.

We know that choice or loyalty is less straightforward than “if a consumer likes your brand, they will buy your product everytime”. Admittedly, there exists strict loyalists but the greater proportion of our consumers will cycle through a handful of preferred lagers.

The decision to purchase Carling over competitors at the moment of truth is complex, but one of the biggest factors in choice is as simple as the visibility of the product. However, as shoppers move online, visibility naturally declines, as does our ability to control it.

So with that in mind, we set our sights on solving the following challenges:

  • Combat declining brand visibility owing to increased online shopping and reduced control to stand out in these environments
  • Meet and exceed the modern shopper’s expectation for a quick, convenient shop.


The concept of a button originated from a desire to make reordering painless as well as the idea that if we can get a Carling branded button into households at scale, we will have achieved visibility in a very literal sense. We would be offering a new, convenient way for customers to choose Carling – all without a single competitor in the frame.

A press of the Beer Button means that Carling is added to basket. At the same time, this action means that it will make its way to the shopper’s recently purchased section on their supermarket retailer’s site.

This was important as we know that 40% of shoppers use their recently purchased list to reorder. So, if pressed just once, the likelihood of repeat or regular purchase via the retailer site is significantly increased, let alone repeat purchase via the button itself. However, this is all assumes that we can get the Beer Button into the households in the first place.

We were aware that incremental value is one of the major factors that influence choice at the point of purchase. In fact, incremental value is often more effective at driving choice than discounting. So, a button free with a multi-pack will in itself drive the initial purchase of Carling and once at home, the button will drive visibility online and in the household. This strategy, however, was dependent on our ability to deliver the Beer Button at scale. The last thing we wanted was a PR stunt that delivered little to no commercial benefit. The numbers had to stack up and this meant we had to find a way to deliver the button at a low unit cost.

A low unit cost dictated that our button had to be powered by Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). However, this presented a new challenge – BLE only works when a corresponding app is running in the background. This presented a problem and required some technical investigation.

After several failed prototypes, our engineering team made a breakthrough and devised an ordering solution that could be delivered at a low unit cost. This meant that we could justify rolling out the button at scale.

Many draw similarities between Carling Beer Button and Amazon’s Dash (both solutions were released weeks apart). Why didn’t we just leverage Amazon’s technology?

However, despite the similarities, jumping on the Amazon Dash bandwagon is not a suitable route for Carling for several reasons:

  • Happy retail partners – The Beer Button serves the supermarkets that stock our products. A solution like Amazon Dash, that could potentially drive customers to Amazon would risk alienating Carling’s retail partners.
  • Consumer choice – The Beer Button syncs with all major retailers, giving consumers the ability to shop with their preferred supermarket and a choice on price.
  • Aligns with existing shopping behaviours – We don’t expect to see consumers abandon Tesco or Sainsbury’s for Amazon just yet and so, aligning with existing behaviour means we are more likely to get good uptake.
  • Easier path to uptake – Our low unit cost custom ordering button means we can give it away for free with multi-packs and that will drive the initial purchase that provides in-home visibility.

Compare this to Amazon’s £5 initial charge for a button. Although this is rebated, it is still a barrier to uptake and it also relies on the consumer actively choosing to order a button from Amazon’s website.

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The Beer Button had a limited release of 1000 buttons for extensive testing purposes. Unfortunately, due to confidentiality agreements with retail partners, commercial results cannot be shared.

  • Featured in Vice Magazine, Mirror and Daily Star
  • Featured in Most Contagious’s 2016 flagship event
  • Editor’s pick for Lovely Awards
  • Drum Network Winner
  • Best use of IoT at the 2017 MOMAs
  • Since the initial press release, there has been significant inbound consumer requests to purchase a Carling Beer Button