Glory days are here to stay

Brand owners convinced there’s growth to come in cider market


THE cider category has become one of the busiest and most profitable in the drinks industry over the last few years – and there’s no sign of the good times coming to an end.

Brand owners have told SLTN that they are optimistic the sector will continue to grow in the years ahead.
Kieron Barton, managing director of Chilli Marketing, the company responsible for promoting Swedish cider brand Rekorderlig in the UK, said a key factor in the category’s success has been its ability to retain the customers it gained during the glory years of the early ‘naughties’ in addition to attracting newer and younger followers.
“Those that were part of the cider boom a few years ago continue to stay and grow the category by moving around on to new brands,” Barton said.
“New variants keep them excited, allowing for the category to keep growing organically.

With players entering the market each year I see the category continuing to grow.

“In addition, cider is firmly on the younger generation’s agenda whereas years ago this was not the case.”
Innovation in the market hasn’t been limited to the introduction of new products either.
Brand owners have also been promoting new and innovative serves for their ciders.
“It is important for brands to give on-trade accounts a point of difference,” added Barton.
“We encourage unusual perfect serves, including adding mint to Rekorderlig Strawberry Lime as well as orange and lemon to Rekorderlig Pear. This adds an element of theatre which grabs consumers’ attention.”
Despite the success the category has enjoyed in recent years, drinks companies remain convinced that there is still room for growth.
Luke Wade, director of Proof Drinks, the distributor of another Swedish cider brand, Briska, said that although it is “inevitable” that the recession will have an impact on the category, there remains scope to develop sales.
“With new players entering the market each year and continued innovation I see the category continuing to grow from strength to strength. I still feel there is substantial room for cider growth within the restaurant and late night sectors and this is one of the reasons we have launched Briska in 330ml format to complement our draught product.”
Wade added that licensees should now consider cider to be as robust a category as beer – and should stock up accordingly.
“Just as licensees are happy to carry an array of different beer styles in their venues, it is also important for them to consider a wide range of cider brands as there are so many different styles to choose from and consumers are increasingly demonstrating a repertoire approach to drinking occasions,” he said.
Not all brand owners are in agreement over the future of the category, however.
Henry Chevallier, partner at craft cider producer Aspall, said the fruit cider market risks becoming saturated by the number of new products being introduced.
“The risk with this repetition is that it offers nothing fundamentally new to the category and therefore does not add real value,” he said.
“If there is no clear point of difference for the cider drinker then the sub-category will reach saturation point and thereafter decline.
“We believe the cider boom will in time drop and leave only a few brands on offer.”
As well as the quality of the products on offer, Chevallier said that presentation is absolutely key for the premium cider sector as it moves forward.
“If the customer feels they are getting good value they will be more than happy to pay a premium,” he said.
“Much of our attention is being focused on offering the perfect serve, through point of sale including branded glassware and extensive brand training for licensees and their staff.”

The risk with repetition is that it offers nothing fundamentally new to 
the category.

Other brand owners are stepping up their marketing efforts.
Magners, the brand that kicked off the cider boom in the first place, is currently engaged in an extensive summer marketing campaign that will look to capitalise on major events like Euro 2012 and the Olympics.
“With cider continuing to drive growth in the drinks market, it is imperative that publicans realise the importance of stocking the leading cider brands such as Magners,” said John Gilligan, sales managing director at Tennent Caledonian Breweries.
The Made in The Dark campaign will include print, outdoor and television advertising as well as promotional packs for licensees.

Image: Cider’s ongoing success has been partly down to its ability to engage new drinkers with innovation.