Bulmers plays numbers game with new cider

Heineken launches new fruit variant and packaging revamp in time for summer

THE modern cider drinker’s thirst for new taste experiences has led the country’s biggest producer to add a new flavour to its range and revamp its packaging design.

Bulmers No. 17, the fourth addition to the cider brand’s range, was developed by Heineken UK after research is said to have revealed a demand from consumers for a cider which marries an “authentic taste with an interesting fruit twist”.
Available to the trade from June, No. 17 named after the 17th recipe created by Bulmers’ previous, Hereford-based owner, is described as an apple cider with red berries cut with a shot of lime.
Joining a stable that already features Bulmers Original, Pear and the current limited edition Bulmers Crisp Blend, its arrival coincides with a brand new look for the cider brand.
With a new bottle shape and label design developed to boost shelf standout, the updated packaging seeks to highlight Bulmers’ strong cider heritage in a contemporary fashion.
The revamp also has the practical aim of helping consumers easily tell the difference between the four ciders in the Bulmers range: brown glass bottles denote Original, green bottles Pear, and clear vessels the flavoured products in the collection.
28-4-11_bulmers_2The new bottles, which will also feature colour-coded labels, will start to be shipped to the trade in May.
“The modern cider category has evolved so quickly over the last three years that you need a lot going on just to keep up with the times,” said Sanjay Patel, brands director-cider at Heineken UK.
“The reason we’re confident [about No.17] is that our innovation is based on strong insight. We go through a very vigorous innovation process on all our cider brands.
“Consumers are telling us they want a cider with fruit; a cider with real authentic taste but also an interesting fruit twist. That’s what we based the liquid on.
“The insight around this category also shows that consumers love experimenting and trying new things, and that’s what we’re providing for them. We’re confident we’ve got the right one.”
As for its target consumer group, Patel said No.17 was being pitched at 20-25 year olds, a slightly younger crowd than Bulmers Original aims for, and expects it to appeal to drinkers of “all different kinds of categories”.
And, while he acknowledged that the fruit-flavoured cider market is saturated with brands, he’s convinced the credentials inherent to Bulmers ensure it isn’t unduly affected by the ‘me too’ syndrome.
“We definitely see fruit [cider] as a growth area,” he told SLTN.
“A lot of brands are operating in it. The difference we’ll bring is scale and consumer respect in the area.
“When someone sees an innovation from Bulmers it brings a lot of credibility.
“The Bulmers brand will bring scale and credibility, and will definitely drive more people to the fruit-flavoured area.
“That’s what we’re looking to do: we want people to come into the category and try different flavours. This will definitely attract people from outwith the cider category and get new drinkers [for cider] in the on-trade.”
Patel ruled out the possibility of Heineken having any more than four ciders in the Bulmers range at any one time, though said there is still plenty of scope to try new things within that number. The strategy, he said, will be to always carry Bulmers Original, Pear, an apple or pear-based and a fruit-based variant.
“We think that four is the right number in terms of what we offer the consumer and also in terms of the support we can give to the trade to bring them to life as well.”

(Top image: The new bottles and labels aim to help consumers differentiate between the four Bulmers ciders. Right: Come in No.17: the cider hits the bars in June.)