That’s the word from producers, who say consumers are increasingly requesting artisan, niche products with an interesting story.
The market also appears to be splitting by age, with younger consumers keen to try world brands and different flavours, while older drinkers are said to be sticking to apple and seeking premium and heritage varieties.
Ed Shoebridge, head of customer marketing at C&C Group, explained: “The rise of high quality, traditional ciders has been a key driver in the category’s continued growth over the past year and will remain so for the near future. The specialist and craft segment boosted cider volume by 18% and value by 28% last year alone, according to CGA Strategy. It’s a trend set to continue as consumers trade up their drinks choices.”
He added that, although new products account for around 21% of packaged cider volumes, there is still strong demand for apple ciders.
“Some 45% of customers are willing to pay more for higher quality ciders, so a specialist apple brand can add more cash to the till,” said Shoebridge.
As the category has grown, provenance has become more important than ever, say cider makers.
Reinforcing the brand’s provenance has been crucial to the success of Swedish cider Kopparberg, according to customer marketing manager Ben Turner.
“Consumers are increasingly interested in heritage and provenance across all FMCG products and cider is no different,” he said. “As new consumers are attracted to the cider category we need to continue to communicate that Kopparberg is a family-owned business and Kopparberg Town is a real place in Sweden. The brewery has been working since 1882 and every drop of our cider is still produced there.”
Some cider firms reckon their brands’ popularity overseas has helped drive sales in the UK.
“We’ve noticed young adult drinkers are very familiar with different ciders from around the world,” said Anthony Mills, head of European marketing for South African cider brand Savanna.
“The scale of Savanna and its success means it is often discovered and enjoyed on their travels.”
And provenance is arguably even more important to older consumers.
As the category has grown, provenance has become more important than ever.
“Almost two-thirds of cider consumers are over 35,” said Debs Carter, marketing director for alcohol at SHS Drinks, parent company of Merrydown. “These older consumers are looking for quality cues such as the taste profile of the liquid and the story behind the brand.”
While they continue to seek out brands with established credentials, cider drinkers are said to be equally keen to try something new.
“Whilst cider has a great story in terms of tradition and heritage, what cider makers have done very well is to ensure products remain relevant to consumers,” said Glen Friel, sales and marketing director at Aston Manor Cider, citing the company’s recent relaunch of its Kingstone Press range as an example of innovation.
And Charlotte Evans, trade marketing executive at Brothers, said jaded consumers want “more than just another fruit-flavoured cider”.
Evans said the company’s recent launch of Perro Loco, a cider cut with lemon and tequila flavouring, was designed to “deliver something even more refreshing to the category for 18-34 [year old] drinkers”.
Even introducing a new format can be effective, according to Peter Stuart of Thistly Cross, who said that since making its ciders available in keg earlier this year, the uptake has been “amazing”. The company claims draught sales have trebled so far this year.
Picking up on these trends is vital to the success of the category in the on-trade, said Gareth Whittle, managing director of Chilli Marketing, the firm behind Rekorderlig in the UK.
“Innovation is key and the winners will be those premises that provide choice in flavours for consumers,” he said.
Those operators who are stocking a range of different styles of cider are the ones that are “winning”, said Martin Thatcher of Thatchers Ciders.
“By getting the range right, complementing the outlet, performance will follow,” he said.