Time to strike a cider balance

Offering a range of styles and brands is key to boosting sales

STRIKING the right balance between the cider styles and brands in your back-bar fridges holds the key to boosting sales this summer. That’s the message from producers and distributors contacted by SLTN last week, who reckon choosing which ciders to stock has become even more important as the market has matured and more brands and variants have been introduced.
Reporting that the category remains in rude health, the firms behind some of the biggest brands urged operators to give careful consideration to their cider range.

The fastest growth sector within the category is ‘modern cider’, according to Heineken UK. The firm, whose brands include Bulmers, Strongbow and Jacques, said it’s driven by younger consumers who have only ever known cider over ice.

Gareth Turner, senior brand manager for premium cider at Heineken UK, whose portfolio includes Strongbow, Bulmers and Jacques, said licensees should ensure their range caters for a broad range of consumers and tastes. “Some operators will say ‘I don’t get those people in so I don’t stock that type of cider’, but maybe the reason they don’t get a certain type of consumer in is because they don’t stock it,” he told SLTN.
“Operators should think about consumers and where the growth in the market comes from. Much of the growth is coming from modern cider, like Bulmers. And that growth is driven by younger consumers who have only ever known cider over ice. “But we’re also seeing craft [and] heritage ciders, like Bulmers Crisp Blend, where it’s all about a specific apple or pear. Strongbow, which is an everyday cider, is also in absolute growth. “Choosing the right range for your bar is about getting the big well-supported brands and a few craft-type ciders.”
Davin Nugent, managing director of Kopparberg distributor COS Brands, also highlighted the importance of catering for a broad range of tastes.
“Cider has become like the beer category in terms of the repertoire,” he told SLTN. “There’s dry to semi-sweet ciders, organic and traditional – it’s a case of who are your customers? “It shouldn’t be a case of ‘I need a pear cider so I’ll put one in and that’s that box ticked’. Double-digit growth in pear cider demonstrates there’s still strong demand for it. “Because there are so many ciders out there and shelf space is not elastic, operators need to back the brands that are proven and offer a range.”
Debs Carter, marketing director at Beverage Brands, which owns WKD Core apple cider, said the category is now well-established with a broad consumer base. “In the same way that many football fans have a ‘second club’ whose fortunes they follow intermittently, cider is many people’s ‘alternative drink’. [It’s] something they turn to when they fancy a bit of a change, so it’s important operators stock a mix of traditional and newer brands to meet differing customers’ needs,” she said. “Given that cider now offers a wealth of variety in terms of levels of sweetness, range of flavours and scale of brand, it really is a category that can claim to have something for everyone.”
That advice was echoed by John Mills, managing director of InterContinental Brands, whose cider portfolio includes St Helier.
“Stock a range so that you have something for various types of cider fans, from those seeking heritage, traditional ciders to session drinkers looking for mainstream plus and premium bottled ciders, and those, predominantly young, consumers who like ciders with added flavours and who are always looking for something new,” he said.