A drink for all four seasons

New brands and flavours credited with redefining category


THE winter months might not have been seen as key cider territory in years gone by, but as the category continues to grow it seems perceptions are changing.

Currently a star performer in the Scottish on-trade, cider has been buoyed by a number of new brands and flavours coming on to the market.
It’s this activity that’s credited with driving growth in the category – something brand owners are keen to ensure is maintained all year round.
John Gemmell, trading director north at Heineken UK, whose cider brands include Strongbow, Bulmers and Jacques, said viewing cider as a summer drink is a “misperception”.

Certain drinks will always be linked to summer, but fruit ciders have helped people see the whole year as cider season.

He reckons attempts to revitalise cider’s image, through marketing activity and the launch of new flavoured ciders, have paid dividends, claiming half of current cider drinkers only entered the category within the last five years
“Cider continues to outperform the LADs (long alcoholic drinks) category, which shows that it is now thought of as a year-round drink and is very much part of consumers’ repertoires,” said Gemmell.
“We are committed to supplying our licensees with popular brands and we provide support to ensure that our brands drive sales all year round.”
Alan Allford, national sales manager for the Deckers Group, the distributor for recently-introduced fruit cider brand Fizz, agrees that it’s up to brand owners to ensure the category remains popular throughout the year.
“Certain drinks will always be linked to the summer, whether it be a pint of cider or a chilled glass of rosé, but the seasonal association has been driven by marketing campaigns, so it‘s up to brand owners to reposition cider as a drink that can be enjoyed all year round,” said Allford.
Other brands bidding to increase cider’s year-round appeal include Kopparberg, which has just launched a new cranberry and cinnamon flavour for the winter months (see page 16); and fellow Swedish brand Rekorderlig, which is set to relaunch its limited edition winter cider.
“Summer is still important to cider and we certainly have spikes when the weather is great but fruit cider has made people look at the category in a different light and made the whole year a cider ‘season’,” said Kieron Barton, managing director of Chilli Marketing, the company responsible for introducing Rekorderlig to the UK.
And it seems it’s not just fruit flavoured ciders that are enjoying year-round appeal.
The firm behind Aspall said the traditional premium end of the cider market is also booming.
“Premium products, which have genuine authenticity and heritage and are made using artisan methods and natural ingredients, are creating strong emotional hooks for consumers to buy into, which is resulting in high levels of consumer appeal, interest and loyalty,” said Aspall joint managing director Geoff Bradman.
It’s not all positive in the cider category, however.

While pear cider is a notable success story, we have to be careful about the way in which we continue to launch new products.

Rising raw material costs coupled with duty hikes and the sheer number of products entering the market are cited as issues which could impact on future growth. Bradman said there is still room for new products, provided they add value to the market.
“Where it becomes less positive is when products are thrown into the marketplace which do not add value or interest, such as we have seen within the fruit cider market,” he said.
John Mills, managing director of ICB, the company behind St Helier cider, agreed.
“While pear cider is a notable success story – pear cider with added flavours continues to attract new consumers into the cider category and each new fruit cider launch seems to give the market a fillip – we have to be careful about the way in which we continue to introduce new products into the market if we are to avoid repeating the experience of RTDs,” he said.