The right range can bear fruit

Variety and the perfect serve key to maximising sales


DESPITE its well-established  year-round appeal, cider always sees a sales spike over the summer months.

And that’s set to be even more pronounced this year as the trade begins to reopen following the latest lockdown.

Cider producers reckon consumers will be looking to trade up and treat themselves when they return to pubs and bars after months at home.

John Gemmell, on-trade category and commercial strategy director at Heineken UK, whose cider brands include Strongbow and Old Mout, said ranging is key.

“When building your range, outlets can maintain throughput and quality with mainstream draught cider options, while offering greater choice and increasing the average price per serve through premium packaged cider,” he said.

“Draught cider is a huge segment in the on-trade and outperforms the total cider category. Looking at a typical year, in 2019 draught cider experienced 1.2% value growth on the previous year. Typically, flavoured draught cider in particular is driving this growth, with both mainstream and premium up 5% and 60% respectively during the same time period.

“Where possible, operators should look to offer both apple and flavoured options on draught to meet customer demand and maximise sales. With such high demand, mainstream apple cider should still be the first tap on every bar.”

When it comes to packaged cider, Gemmell said operators can experiment more.

“Within packaged cider, there is more scope to experiment by trialling smaller volumes of a new flavour or niche brand to gauge interest among your customers,” he said.

“The longer shelf life also gives you more time to sell through slower moving lines if some aren’t as popular with your customers. Use packaged cider to premiumise your range and encourage trade-up. Particularly for reopening, consider your packaged offering to cater for this demand for premium or different brands. Exotic choices are driving growth within premium flavoured cider, led by a younger generation who are looking for sessionable fruit ciders in unique flavours.”

The importance of range was underlined by Andrew Lawrence, sales and operations director for Scotland at Molson Coors Beverage Company, whose cider brands include Rekorderlig and Aspall Cyder.

He advised operators to stock a range which balances the “classic favourites with new variations” and also includes alcohol-free options.

“Low and no-alcohol is a small part of the overall cider category, but one that’s in huge growth thanks to consumer trends towards health and wellness,” said Lawrence.

“Recent research found that Scottish drinkers have the highest consumption of low and no-alcohol beverages in the UK, so operators should make sure they have a range of alcohol-free options on offer this summer like our Rekorderlig Alcohol-Free Strawberry & Lime cider, with its light fruity notes making it a perfect choice for those with a sweeter tooth.

“The technology used in filtering ‘low’ and ‘no’ alcohol drinks is improving all the time, meaning the quality comfortably measures up to the alcoholic equivalents, while bringing their own distinctive taste which is winning over more and more drinkers.”

Marcie Noble, on-trade sales director (west) at Tennent’s, which counts the Magners and Orchard Pig cider brands in its portfolio, also advised featuring an alcohol-free option in a cider range – as well as stressing the importance of delivering the ‘perfect serve’.

“As restrictions relax to allow outdoor drinking in cider gardens, people will naturally be looking for refreshing but sessionable drinks to enjoy over a couple of hours in the sunshine,” said Noble.

“Consumers will stick with well known brands served as pints, especially at first given pint serves aren’t readily available at home and so will have been few and far between over the lockdown months.

“Refreshment over ice is key in the cider category, especially during summer, and Magners is well known as the original over ice serve, having brought it to market years ago. Whether it’s pint or bottle serves, make sure your glasses are clean, in good condition and filled with ice to fulfil that need for refreshment.”

The importance of delivering the ‘perfect serve’ was also highlighted by Anne Claypole at Kopparberg, who described it as “more important than ever as consumers eagerly anticipate that first drink back”.

“When customers return to the trade, they will expect not only to see their favourite brands behind the bar but will rejoice in the perfect serve and expect nothing less than an ice cold bottle, can or pint, served in branded glassware to deliver an experience that is uncreatable at home,” she said.

“To increase volume and upweight on serves we also recommend the use of a sharing serve, such as multi-serve draught cider towers to hold up to five pints, pitchers, and wire carriers for pint glasses, when serving groups. These solutions allow less or quicker interaction with customers, as well as convenience for busier staff when table service is still going to be heavily relied upon. The right brands, alongside the correct premium touchpoints to ensure that customers feel excited and safe to be back in the trade is a recipe for success.”