Jarlsberg Cheese Looking for Younger, International Customers

If you're an iGen teen or an older millennial, then Jarlsberg (yarls-berg) wants your business. 


The iconic, 60-year-old Norwegian cheese company is well-known and renowned in Northern Europe. But in the states, it's seen as “your grandmother’s cheese” among young people, according to their publicity representative Violet Degnan. But she's trying to change that. Instead of launching another cringey social media campaign aiming to attract everyone under 35, Degnan, who is a millennial herself, has opted for a pop-up campaign instead. 



“A core audience of [Jarlsburg’s] is aging out,” she said. “I know we need to go younger, and experiential is number one for that. I’m encouraging the company to invest in brand moments where people can connect beyond Instagram.”


Jarlsburg’s second pop-up can be found on Christopher street until October 7. Their first was at Oceana in Times Square, and “was a huge success” according to Degnan. But their latest one is inside Sokerbit, a Scandinavian sweets shop. Past a row of fish candies and chocolates is a stand with cheese samples, a brand representative, a cheese wheel swing, as well as cheese to buy. On a recent Sunday afternoon, the stand was just as busy as the rest of the store, with tourists and locals who often come by Sokerbit for a sweet treat, this time also grabbing something savory. 



And every weekend until it closes, brand ambassador and celebrity Chef George Duran will be making cheese boards and other dishes with Jarlsberg products. He’s thinking of making candy or even caramel, to complement the other items inside Sockerbit. Duran says he uses the cheese mostly to make grilled cheese sandwiches for his kids. 


“Sometimes I feel like a grilled cheese factory,” he said. “The kids specifically request [Jarlsberg]. It’s not just the flavor, it's the gooey-ness to it, but it also doesn't just seep right through the bread, it holds and has a nice nutty flavor.”


The cheese is versatile, he says, and can be used for more high end or casual dishes. He has grated Jarlsburg over various dishes or baked it in lasagna. This summer Duran wrapped cheese squares around bacon on a skewer which he grilled over a flame. Jarlsberg describes its cheese as a “mild, semi-soft, part skim cheese made from cow’s milk,” and “one of Norway’s best kept secrets.” As part of a global campaign the company did last year to attract a more international audience, he made four types of hamburgers with Jarlsburg. And now, Duran is working with them to attract younger consumers.


“What’s happening in the last few years, is a trend toward better cheese other than the overly processed stuff,” he said. “We have millennials who have a more refined palette and are more educated; they know cheese should be there in terms of more quality.”


He praised Jarlsberg one last time, saying how incredibly versatile it is. There is only one “flavor” of Jarlsburg, meaning its the same nutty, light flavor for its four products, which are the original, a lite low-fat version, a smoked version and a “special reserve” version. At the pop-up, every purchase comes with a sampling of candy as well as a cheese knife. 


At the pop-up, cheese is being sold for $13.99/lb, you can also fine it at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Sams, Fairway and other major supermarkets. From four to six p.m. on the 29th, Marissa Mullen, aka That Cheese Plate, will have an event where she will be be building and serving some of the cheeseboard concepts she created for the pop-up.