Keep cider in range, drinks firms say

Operators advised to choose carefully if fridge space is limited

 Kopparberg is one of a number of cider brands to boast a range of fruit flavours.

An explosion of new fruit flavours and products in recent years has given operators no shortage of options to consider when it comes to cider.

And so it should come as no surprise that the category remains buoyant. Figures supplied to SLTN by CGA Strategy show the value of draught cider sold in the Scottish on-trade was up by £5.4 million to £69.1m in the 12 months to March 2013, while sales of bottled cider rose by 0.9% in the period to £55.1m.
Drinks firms contacted by SLTN agreed that cider remains a key category for Scotland’s pubs, bars and clubs.
But with an ever-increasing range of brands, flavours and styles, choosing which ciders to stock can be a challenge.
David Scott, director of brands and insight at Carlsberg UK, whose cider brands include Somersby, said too many options can be confusing.
“The boom in cider sales means both licensees and consumers have a very wide range of choice, which isn’t always a positive,” he said.
“Our advice to licensees is to complement a strong draught brand with a carefully-selected bottled range, which might include a pear cider, one or two fruit ciders and a traditional or regional brand.”
Rob Calder, head of marketing for Swedish cider brand Kopparberg, advised licensees to carefully consider the amount of fridge space they have available and tailor their cider range accordingly.
“A wide range might be right for some bars, but I would say a structured range of proven winners is more important than ramming your fridge with every new variant under the sun,” he said.
“Publicans should ensure the right amount of space for the market leaders and, where appropriate, create space for interesting and eclectic variants.”
Luke Wade, brand manager for Swedish craft cider Briska, agreed that operators should give serious thought to the products they are stocking if space is limited.
“In essence all packaged brands are competing for limited fridge space within venues so there will doubtless be an impact on fridge layout as additional brands enter the marketplace,” he said.
“Cooler space is a big issue, so venues have to be realistic about the range of products they can physically stock in their fridges, which is why I see a big opportunity for brands with 330ml execution in the on and off-trades.”
John Gilligan, of Tennent Caledonian, whose cider brands include Magners and Blackthorn, said having a selection of ciders, both draught and packaged, to meet the needs of a broad range of drinkers is key.
“We know that consumers want choice at the bar and different brands to suit different occasions,” he said.
“That means having traditional brands such as Blackthorn, a leading modern cider like Magners and the speciality option of Addlestones at the bar.
“There are many steps that publicans can take to make the most of cider for their outlet, including a great portfolio of brands at the bar, appropriate branded glassware and accessories, a consistent high quality serve, excellent customer service and bar staff trained to world class standards.”
Andrew Turner at Heineken, whose cider brands include Bulmers and Strongbow, agreed that choosing which ciders to stock is only part of the story. “Introducing new and exciting ways to highlight your range of cider by, for example, running an offer on a ‘cider of the month’ can pay rich dividends,” he said.
Having had a taste of summer at the beginning of June, the weather for the rest of the summer is anyone’s guess.
But the drinks firms contacted by SLTN expect cider sales to flourish in the coming months regardless.
“Cider is increasingly becoming an all-year round choice for consumers, but it remains a strong impulse purchase and historically, cider sales still do increase during the summer,” said Anthony Mills, head of European marketing for Savanna cider.
Abi Evans at Westons agreed.
“Previous years have shown that a good hot and sunny summer can be worth up to a 20% increase in sales,” she said.