That was the message from cider firms contacted by SLTN, who said while the plethora of flavours and brands on the market is helping to maintain consumer interest, it’s vital licensees choose carefully when deciding what to stock.
“Having the right portfolio of high quality ciders, both draught and packaged, to meet the needs of a wide range of drinkers is important,” said John Gilligan at Tennent Caledonian, whose cider portfolio includes Magners and Gaymers.
Rob Calder, head of marketing for Swedish flavoured cider brand Kopparberg, agreed that offering variety in a cider range is key, advising operators to “deliver something different”.
“Give people a reason to try something new,” he said.
Andrew Turner, category and trade marketing director for Heineken, whose Bulmers cider range includes black cherry and red grape variants, advised licensees to “read the marketplace and take into account their location and customer footprint”.
Highlighting that customer preferences tend to vary by venue, Turner encouraged operators to “tailor their cider offering to suit their audience”.
While offering variety is important, cider firms said operators must ensure they stock brands and flavours that sell well.
Henry Chevallier Guild, partner at Aspall, said every product must earn its place in the fridge.
“Make sure any flavoured ciders you offer genuinely provide a point of difference and are not just a repeat of something similar you already have,” he said.
“If the products are strong, sales will not start to diminish when the next flavoured launch comes to market.
“Strong products with a genuine point of difference will continue to fare well and should therefore be a permanent fixture on the bar.”
Matthew Showering, managing director of Brothers cider, said: “Space on bar and in fridges needs to be given to pear and fruit cider brands otherwise the trade will miss out on a rare incremental profit opportunity.”
Luke Wade of Proof Drinks, which distributes Briska cider in the UK, advised operators to begin by trialling different brands and flavours in order to identify the best-sellers.
“I strongly believe that licensees should trial products for a period to evaluate consumer demand,” he said.
“All venues are different and will have a different core customer base as well as more transient trade.”
Building a range that can be paired with food can also help attract new customers to the category, according to Julia Rennie of Scottish cider brand Thistly Cross, whose flavoured variants include strawberry and elderflower.
“Pairing real fruit ciders with seasonal menus is a great way to introduce the cider to patrons,” she said.
“We’ve also worked with some great accounts, right across the UK, who are running in-house cider festivals which always go down a treat.”
Gemma Copping of Rekorderlig highlighted a current trend towards “exotic flavours” of cider and said she expects innovation within the flavoured cider category to continue.
“We are confident we will see more autumnal and winter ciders enter the category in the future,” she said.
• Total cider up 4.9%
• Apple cider up 10.7%
• Fruit cider up 7.8%
• Pear cider down 38.1%
Image – A range of flavoured ciders, in draught and packaged formats, is key to making the most of the category, say brand owners.