Variety is said to be the spice of life; and when it comes to diversity the cider category has it in spades.
With such a broad category comprising different flavours, styles and formats, the firms behind some of the biggest cider brands in Scotland reckon publicans who take advantage of this diversity could see positive results.
Matthew Jamieson, brand manager for Magners at Tennent Caledonian Breweries, said the cider category has “truly diversified” over the last few years. He suggested publicans mirror this diversity in order to meet the demands of the category’s broader customer base.
“The key to success for publicans is offering consumers a comprehensive range of ciders to highlight the breadth of the category in both flavours and formats,” said Jamieson.
“By offering consumers choice, operators will ensure that they are appealing to cider drinkers’ thirst for experimentation within the category, while also stocking a range of much-loved brands and flavours that appeal to the more traditional cider drinker.”
Martin Thatcher, managing director of Thatchers Cider, echoed Jamieson in terms of catering for drinkers of traditional cider, adding that there “continues to be growing demand for authentic, heritage ciders”.
In addition to stocking traditional styles of cider, Thatcher also suggested publicans with a strong draught cider offer could do well.
“The cider category is in growth, and in the on-trade draught cider is the hero,” he said.
Stocking a strong mix of packed and draught ciders was advocated by John Gemmell, trading director at Strongbow and Bulmers parent firm Heineken UK.
“In terms of Scotland specifically, the most recent figures show a value growth of 5% and we’re confident the category will continue in its growth in the region,” he said.
“Packaged cider is growing at a faster rate than draught, with growth up 10.6% on last year in Scotland.”
Amidst the buoyancy of the category, cider drinkers continue to be on the look out for “new and exciting variants” alongside their “old favourites”, said Gemmell, who suggested that publicans should keep this in mind when reviewing their range.
Rob Salvesen of Swedish fruit cider Kopparberg agreed that packaged cider represents a real opportunity for Scottish pubs.
“Scotland is seeing excellent growth within the packaged cider category with value growing 9.3% ahead of volume 2.3% demonstrating that cider is still driving value into the market,” said Salvesen.
Looking to the prospect of further new flavours and formats joining the category in the coming months, Salvesen suggested there is still “plenty of room for growth”.
“We are constantly evaluating consumer and market trends and 2016 will be no different,” he said.
“There is still much more to come so watch this space.”
Sarah McCarthy of Diageo, which launched Pimm’s Cider Cup last year, agreed that publicans should regularly review their cider range.
“Packaged fruit ciders and craft beers are in growth, with regular new innovations launching throughout the year, often supported by high spend consumer awareness campaigns,” said McCarthy.
“Customers looking for these products are much more likely (than the average consumer) to try new products in the on-trade, so licensees should ensure they regularly review their fridge range to keep it fresh.
“Seven in ten outlets now stock four or more packaged ciders, and this is continuing to grow.”
New product launches aren’t the only place innovation can be found in the cider market.
Publicans can take steps to energise their cider offer too.
Geoff Bradman, commercial director for cider maker Westons, suggested operators consider pairing cider with food to encourage sales.
“Cider is incredibly versatile and works really well as both an accompaniment and an ingredient,” he said.
As well as being a cider maker, the firm behind Westons operates its own ‘Scrumpy House’ in Herefordshire. Chris Murphy, chef at the Westons Scrumpy House, reckons cider can be the perfect pairing to a range of dishes.
“Our staff are specifically trained to advise customers which ciders will go well with which foods and why,” said Murphy.