Denmark: The Hoppiest Way to End Biz Scand

The best way to see all of Copenhagen is with your very own BizScand Bike Crew!

Halløj from København! Copenhagen has been an exciting city and we have enjoyed the warm weather! We can confirm that the best way to see Copenhagen is on a bicycle. The colorful buildings and waterfronts give this place a special charm. We’ve gotten to enjoy some seafood and marveled in the majestic Tivoli Gardens. While in Copenhagen we visited 2 very different companies: Maersk and Mikkeller.

An article in The Economist discussed family companies and how their old-fashion virtues keep a company steady. Both companies we visited in Denmark still follow the family values of their founders.

Maersk

Jenna and Theresa at Maersk!

Maersk is one of the largest container shipping companies in the world. Maersk McKinney Moller took over the company when his father died, and the company still utilizes his values today. 5 important values that are instilled within the company are: constant care, humbleness, uprightness, employee care, and living up to the company name. Maersk McKinney Moller’s legacy lives on through the companies engagement with their clients and enabling a global commerce.

Maersk is a household name in the shipping and logistics industry, but they are working to improve their service. In 2016 their vision was to become a global integrator of container logistics, and by doing so, they had to break up their conglomerate. They are striving for seamless engagement with their clients to creating a more simple logistics process. They have started to integrate vertically by owning different steps in their supply chain (terminals, ships, warehouses) to create a more streamlined process.

One advantage that helps Maersk with their strategy is by having Maersk Management Consulting, their own in-house consulting firm. Having their own consulting group largely helps with their current transition to ensure that each change is successful in a way that betters the process for their clients. Maersk holds the largest market share of its industry with 19%, with competitors MSC and COSCO falling behind.

Maersk’s advantages over its competitors come back to their family values by having constant care for their customers and upholding the family name that has become so reliable in this industry. Maersk continues to improve from their conglomerate transition that they have started to create digital integration initiatives. They are working to improve costs for their clients by creating an online customer experience allowing for their services to be accessed more quickly and easily.

Maersk’s ability to adapt to changes within its industry and technology allow the company to maintain success over competitors. They still display the legacy of Maersk McKinney Moller and are able to adapt his values to their evolving market.

Mikkeller 🍻

Beer Tasting at Mikkeller HQ! Got to stop and appreciate the distinctive Keith Shore illustrations that can be seen on every Mikkeller beer.

The final company we will discuss on our blog is one that both of us were excited for. As avid craft beer enthusiasts, it was such a treat to be able to visit the internationally well known Mikkeller and hear first hand from fellow American, Christopher Toia, Mikkeller Head of Sales.

In order to understand the competitive advantage of this company we must first understand the origin story of Mikkeller to see how crucial all of this is to their company’s values. Mikkeller was founded by Mikkel Borg Bjergsø who went to university in the United States. While there, he got a taste for different beers and realized that there was more beer out there than Carlsberg. When he came back to Denmark, he discovered that the diversity of beer just wasn’t available in Europe. He reached out to his favorite breweries, and asked them how they were able to get certain hop characters and coffee notes to be more prominent in their beer.

From there Mikkel was able to produce Mikkeller’s flagship beer, “Beer Geek Breakfast,” an oatmeal coffee stout which became one of the highest rates beers in the world in 2005 on RateBeer.com. Investors were interested and wanted to buy the beer; however, having the freedom of creativity was important to Mikkel, who decided he did not want to go down that path. Instead he opens Mikkeller in 2006. 

Creativity is one of the values Mikkeller is committed to stick to. In 2011 they brewed 150 unique different styles of beer. This year, they project to brew 450 unique beers. It is important to them to not create sub brand like Coors or Budlight. They are always trying to push the boundaries with their beers and make the people who drink them to have a reaction, something provoking whether good or bad. 

Competition today has become more fierce. The market in the United States is currently over saturated with craft beers to where prices have compressed once again and there are many beers out there now that taste too similar. It becomes a challenge to maintain that desire of diversity so Mikkeller tries to pride themselves on differentiation.

In Europe the craft beer industry is about 5 or 10 years behind the United States but is heating up very quickly in places like the UK and France. However, in other countries such as Germany, the craft beer trend moves a lot slower. This is largely due to beer in Germany being extremely cheap. So cheap that you could buy half a liter of a Pilsner for €1.52. This makes things difficult for breweries that want to break through Germany and introduce different styles of beer such as an India Pale Ale (I.P.A) for more double than price of that cheap Pilsner beer. Such was the case for the ever popular Stone Brewing, one of the U.S’s largest employers in the craft brewing community, which recently had to close their Berlin location due to these struggles. (See blog post from Stone Brewing’s founder here). Knowing this, Mikkeller is aware of the different buying habits of every market. Despite this slow change, Chris believes that people do want the differentiation. Per capital, people are drinking less alcohol than generations did in the past but overall spending on alcohol has been relatively stable. This means that people are possibly making more informed decisions on what they are consuming i.e. instead of 7 Coronas, they might opt for 2 craft brews instead.

Lastly, what sets Mikkeller apart from other breweries is its high brand equity. There’s a lot of awareness and trust. Even though they are not huge like an Anheuser Busch or Constellation Brands, they are still able to command a higher price point for their beers when they go to partners. Mikkeller says with confidence that their partners don’t have to sell much of their beer to be successful. Every truck that leaves with Mikkeller beer on it is going to be a higher gross margin than the truck that leaves without Mikkeller beer on it.

On a personal note, we respect Mikkeller for not selling out, for being adamant about continuing to be uniquely themselves, and for not getting bogged down by doing things that make complete commercial sense. It seems to work for them!

Mikkeller currently has 50 bars and restaurants worldwide. Come visit one today!