The cider fixture - which has swiftly snatched shelf-space from RTDs - is becoming increasingly exotic, hence younger drinkers continue to pour in to the market.


The number of adults who now drink cider, up from 47% last year, according to Mintel

One of the main drivers of the cider market’s success in recent years has been its accessibility and ability to appeal to new user groups such as women and 18- to 24-year-olds (Mintel Cider Report February 2013).

Kopparberg head of marketing Rob Calder agrees that cider is no longer a small playing field. “There are innovations such as fruit cider which appeal to different people and tap into different occasions,” he says.

Jai Singh, who runs Singh’s Premier in Sheffield, believes that brands such as Kopparberg are helping to create good all-round appeal, particularly for younger drinkers both male and female.

Jai transformed his cider fixture five months ago and as a consequence sales have rocketed.

“We didn’t have a lot of cider in the fridge before, just cans of Strongbow and Woodpecker, but I changed this around to include a lot more bottled variants and cider has been flying out of the store ever since,” he explains.

He has removed some RTDs to make more room for cider in his fridges. “I’ve also increased the range of cider we offer - we used to have a lot of double-facings on the shelves, but I’ve had to make these into single facings to allow for more variants,” he says.

Since the changes Jai is now selling more Strongbow Pear and has increased the range of Rekorderlig flavours as these have been popular.

It’s no surprise, then, to learn that most of cider’s overall category growth is coming from flavoured ciders, which is a sector that has grown 131% in the past year, according to IRI (volume share to week ending October 27, 2012).

Flavoured cider has grown its share of the overall category by 3.2% in volume and 4.9% in value to make up more than 14% of the category in sales value, according to Nielsen (year to January 5, 2013).

It’s worth remembering, though, that while flavoured ciders are all the rage at the moment, at 14% this is still a relatively small segment of the market.

Amanda Grabham, head of brand marketing at Merrydown Cider, points out that what often gets overlooked is the fact that almost two-thirds of cider is still consumed by the over-35 age group (GB TGI 2012, Kantar)”.

She adds: “This means they outnumber 18- to 30-year-old purchasers by about two to one, but this isn’t reflected in the range of ciders on offer as retailers have put more and more emphasis on new brands which are, by and large, aimed at younger adults.”

Therefore, there are other growth areas which convenience retailers should be keeping an eye on, particularly in those convenience stores which may not have a predominantly young customer base.

Premium cider is a popular segment, and brands which are striving to fall under both banners - such as Rekorderlig - have been reaping the rewards in the past year.

Retailer’s view

“We do sell cider all year, but our sales increase by 50% in the summer. Last summer we did well with fruit ciders and there were lots of them around - Brothers and Kopparberg were strong sellers.

“Sales could have been stronger if the weather had been better.

“We are preparing for the summer again now so I will reduce the amount of ale and bitter on my shelves to replace these with cider. I will look in the trade press to see what’s new. Ciders often go into the off-trade first so it creates a demand in retail and then I see what’s going into pubs to see what’s been really popular.

“We have our key sellers, but it also depends what deals our suppliers offer us. We look for the key price point to pass promotions on to customers. We have tastings as well to help drive cider sales.

“There has also been a pear cider explosion. All this means it can be tricky to organise my chiller. Last year there was growth in fruit beers at a lower alcoholic strength so I had to also fit these into my fridges.”

Jimmy Dhaliwal, Thorougoods, Warwickshire

“Rekorderlig commands the third highest price point among flavoured cider brands and is one of the fastest growing cider brands in the category,” says Gareth Whittle, managing director of UK distributor Chilli Marketing.

The importance of heritage and provenance is becoming increasingly important for the cider consumer, points out Thatchers Cider managing director Martin Thatcher. “Brands that can be ‘trusted’ by the consumer are brands that are growing,” he explains.

“We anticipate that values of heritage and quality will differentiate the sustainable business of the craft producers from those entering the market for short-term gain.”

Meanwhile, symbol groups such as Spar are also tapping into growth in the cider market. Spar revamped its own label cider range this March with a new taste and redesigned packaging. Its 4x440ml can pack is pricemarked at £2.75.

“We are anticipating a significant growth in sales following the revamp, and are urging retailers to stock up on the range,” says licensed trading director Chris Lewis.

Fruit and flavoured ciders

It might be a smaller portion of the market, but fruit and flavoured ciders are definitely flavour of the month.

Rekorderlig is one producer that has been tapping into this growth with a gamut of unusual combinations, such as last year’s launches of Mango-Raspberry and Orange & Ginger.

“Both flavours performed extremely well at launch and continue to deliver strong sales,” says Whittle. Last year’s Winter Cider, which had the unique proposition of being suitable served hot or cold, also appealed to many, while this year the producer has confidence in its summer seasonal edition, Passionfruit Cider.

The company plans to invest more than £4m in marketing for the brand this year.

Kopparberg is another innovator in flavoured ciders, while the producer also highlights its Swedish roots. “It is imported from Sweden and it is a premium product with a premium price,” explains the company’s Calder.

He explains that the brand’s Mixed Fruit variant has the highest rate of sale of all packaged cider in UK pubs and bars and customers expect the brand to be on sale in convenience as well.

“Kopparberg is growing at 66% within flavoured cider, with Kopparberg Mixed Fruit and Strawberry & Lime our star performers, and this growth is being driven by multipacks,” he says.

Others aim to increase their presence in this sector. Brewer Heineken launched two fruit flavoured ciders in February, Bulmers Cider Bold Black Cherry and Bulmers Cider Pressed Red Grape. And its Bulmers No.17 is being renamed and repackaged as Bulmers Cider Crushed Red Berries & Lime, to coincide with the arrival of the latest additions.

Brewers join the race into cider

Beer producers have clearly been eyeing up the cider market as beer struggles to grow in both volume and value terms.

Many lager brands reported flat UK sales in 2012 while cider has bucked the trend. Three in five adults now drink cider, a 47% increase on 2011 (source: Mintel).

Brewer Molson Coors finally took the plunge in March this year with its Carling British Cider launch.

This move follows a shift into cider by rival lager brewers AB InBev and Carlsberg.

InBev spilled its Stella Artois brand into the cider market in April 2011 with Stella Artois Cidre, and the brand reportedly made £42m in retail sales by the end of its first year, leading to the launch of a pear variant in 2012.

“The Stella Artois Cidre range has helped to further premiumise the category through a combination of its quality offer and sophisticated brand positioning this has led to new cider drinkers entering the category,” says off-trade sales director Simon Harrison.

And Carlsberg also made its first foray into UK cider in July last year with its Somersby brand. The cider, originally launched in Denmark and Norway in 2008, is a 4.5% abv drink brewed in Hertfordshire and available in 440ml cans (four- and 12-packs) and 500ml bottles.

Heineken already has its feet firmly secured in the cider market via its Strongbow and Bulmers brands, but a further cash injection into this market earlier this year (with two new flavours for Bulmers Cider), and last year’s launch of Strongbow Pear, has helped it to stave off its beer brewing rivals.

In addition to the launch of Strongbow Pear, Strongbow Original has recently undergone a transformation to broaden its appeal.

Heineken sales director Martin Porter says the company “expects to see continued innovation around different fruit varieties for years to come”.

Gaymers, now part of the Magners GB stable, is also investing in flavours with the recent launch of its Gaymers Tropical Cider. “The flavoured cider category is seeing massive growth in off-trade sales and Gaymers is following this trend,” says head of innovation Victoria Walker.

Meanwhile, fruit cider pioneer Brothers Cider reports “fantastic results” for flavours such as its Strawberry Cider (which accounts for 50% of the producer’s volume sales) and Toffee Apple Cider (its fastest growing SKU).

Brothers managing director Matthew Showering advises convenience retailers to think carefully about what they stock in this overcrowded market, but “simply stocking the same old boring mainstream brands will not excite the average consumer or non-cider consumer,” he says.

He suggests offering a balanced range of mainstream apple, premium pear and fruit ciders.

Premium and Heritage

Flavoured cider doesn’t appeal to all cider drinkers. Anthony Mills, head of European marketing for Savanna Cider, says it’s the premium end of the market that is driving interest.

“While relatively new to the UK, as a premium bottled ‘New World’ cider Savanna has proved to have great appeal with retailers and consumers alike, who have embraced its quirky proposition - a unique serve with a wedge of lemon in the neck of the bottle - and its great taste.”

Aston Manor Cider sales and marketing director Glen Friel agrees there is still an opportunity within premium cider. “This is why Aston Manor is investing in Kingstone Press and also increasing the focus on award-winning products such as Malvern Oak and Malvern Gold.”

Although this is a growth area, Abi Evans, off-trade marketing manager at premium and longstanding cider producer Westons, warns that large numbers of new consumers are unlikely to enter the category at the premium end. She does note, however, that “at Westons we are finding that people are still prepared to pay the money for premium ciders”.

Merchandising tips

Off-trade retailers can expect to see at least five more years of robust cider sales, according to experts. So without resorting to dangling cans of cider from every light fitting, convenience retailers should think about making an attractive but impactful display of cider which no shopper can miss.

Cider festivals are one way of doing this. Spar UK ran its second Cider Event of the Year last summer, and it says it is likely to run a third this year. The Festival ran from August 9 to August 29, with a host of key brands available at competitive prices.

Cider experts also stress the importance of getting a good range in the chillers. AB InBev’s Simon Harrison suggests dedicating 20% of the chiller to ciders. “This is a key competitive advantage from the multiples,” he points out.

Anthony Mills at Savanna Cider agrees that cider is a strong impulse purchase, so it’s important that chillers are kept well stocked. “Warmer weather and get-togethers with family and friends can also mean spontaneous entertaining and we find that the Savanna four-pack is very popular,” he says.

Multipacks are also driving sales for Kopparberg, explains Rob Calder. “We are seeing distribution gains across convenience of our 10-pack cans of both of our star-performing flavours. These are really handy packs, ideal for convenience shoppers who are entertaining.”

At Singh’s Premier in Sheffield, Jai Singh states that smaller bottle size packs are not doing as well as other cider formats, and notes that suppliers should consider selling the larger bottles in packs.

Meanwhile, Magners has plans to introduce a pricemarked pack into the impulse channel to help boost sales of the mid-pack canned cider category, which saw a slight decline in sales in the past year.

Evans says its star performer is the premium Henry Westons brand, which is growing at 13% in volume (Symphony IRI to February 2, 2013).

The category is crowded, admits Evans, but she says the best thing for convenience retailers to do is to offer a wide choice of packaged ciders, merchandising them alongside each other to encourage consumers to explore the category and experiment.

Westons says it will rebrand its Organic Wyld Wood cider this year, with plans to be revealed this summer.

Traditional cider-making and heritage brands such as Westons, Merrydown, Thatchers and Aspall have a well-established foothold in this market.

“Heritage brands play a very different role from mainstream ciders as they are being sought out by cider consumers who are looking for quality cues such as the taste profile of the product and the story behind the brand,” says Merrydown’s Grabham. “As the number one heritage cider brand in impulse stores (Nielsen MAT to week ending March 2, 2013), Merrydown Cider is a ‘must stock’.”

Similarly, Thatchers Cider can boast more than 100 years of cider-making in its home county of Somerset, and this claim is becoming increasingly important for the brand as it battles for shelf-space against its younger, modern counterparts.

But the brand is performing well, according to Martin Thatcher, who explains that value sales of Thatcher’s in the UK off trade are growing four times that of the total off trade cider market (Nielsen, week ending January 5, 2013).

Thatchers Gold continues to be the producer’s best performer - it’s been a popular draught cider option for a while - and Thatcher believes this is now contributing to its strength in the off-trade.

The company can now offer convenience retailers a range of multi-pack options for Gold cans, with new additions of four and 10x440ml can options, together with its 500ml bottles.

“Drinking styles have changed greatly over recent years,” says Thatcher. “Consumers are increasingly choosing cans over PET, which now makes up an increasingly small share of the overall cider market.”

This year the company also added Somerset Mixed Fruit to its line-up.

Marketing and investing

Cider producers have been investing generously in their brands for years now, and many believe there is a direct link between innovation and the drink’s overall popularity in comparison to some of the other drinks categories, which have seen little brand activity and hence no boost in sales.

Brothers’ Showering points to the fruit cider category as a good example of how continued investment can drive interest.

“The growth of the cider market is being driven by fruit ciders, particularly mixed fruit, according to the latest stats,” says Showering. “Innovation within the market appears to be a big factor in driving the sector forward, and the fruit cider category is now bigger in volume and value terms than the pear cider category.”

This year is no exception with cash injections planned from most key producers.

Thatchers Cider released a new TV commercial (March 2013), building on the brand’s Somerset roots and highlighting the distinctive taste of its flagship Gold cider. The £4m campaign, which will run over the summer months, has been running nationally on ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and multichannel, supported by outdoor advertising.

Also from March this year, Heineken started promoting the Bulmers’ portfolio of ciders with its biggest marketing investment to date, spanning TV advertising, outdoor, digital and social media.

It’s also a key year for Brothers. The company is celebrating its fifth anniversary by launching a new premium look, drawing on its family-run credentials.

“The recently relaunched packaging will be backed by a continued £5m UK-wide marketing investment,” says Showering.

And this year’s campaign for Merrydown Cider will include sampling at county shows, a summer-themed on-pack promotion and reinforcing the brand’s link with food via the brand’s website and recipe booklets alongside the sampling activity. In addition, a range of free POS materials will be available to convenience store retailers via the POS hotline (0800 9173450).

Merrydown’s ‘Great Summer Celebration’ on-pack promotion will feature on 75ml bottles of medium and dry variants, offering the chance to win leisure items such as barbecues and garden furniture.

Meanwhile, cider and sport link-ups, traditionally the domain of beer, are becoming more common.

Producer Aston Manor is involved with Rugby League through the Kingstone Press Championship and as a sponsor of the England Rugby League side.

The producer is also heavily investing in growing its capacity, with £10m already invested into its Aston Manor production site at Tiverton, Devon, and a further £5m earmarked for this year. It also plans to plant 1,000 acres of new orchards in the West Midlands.

Another cider link to sport comes from Westons Cider, which last year announced a three-year partnership with the England and Welsh Cricket Board for Stowford Press to become the Official Cider of England Cricket. The producer says it plans to invest even more in this area as the Ashes run over the course of the summer.

“One of our biggest activations will be an on-pack promotion across Stowford Press cans, giving consumers the chance to win a pair of Ashes tickets every day,” says Evans.

This year is also the second of a three-year sponsorship agreement with Henry Westons and the Cheltenham Jazz and Literature Festivals and the producer has lots of plans to support these events with in-store and on-pack activity.

And finally, Savanna says it plans to launch a “heavyweight consumer advertising campaign, reflecting Savanna as the third largest cider brand in the world,” although details are not yet available.

Ones to watch

Core appeal

The brand synonymous with lager drinkers took the plunge into cider in March with Carling British Cider. The cider aims to target the eight million drinkers who enjoy both cider and lager. The 4.5% abv drink is available in 500ml and 275ml bottles and will be supported by a £4.5m marketing push.

tel: 0845 6000888

Mix it up

The latest cider to join the Thatchers portfolio is the 4% abv Somerset Mixed Fruit, which blends the producer’s cider with blackcurrant, raspberry, strawberry and blackberry. The 500ml cider joins Thatchers Somerset Rose and Thatchers Somerset Pear in the Somerset Fruit Ciders range.

rrp: £2.29

tel: 01934 822862

Tropical taste

Gaymers Tropical Cider entered the market this spring in the supermarkets only, and small retailers can now get their hands on it. The company’s fifth addition to its range of fruity ciders comes in 500ml bottles. The drink blends pineapple, mango and passionfruit flavours with a crisp pear cider.

tel: 0845 601 5959

Fruitful move

Brewer Heineken launched two fruit flavoured ciders in March: Bulmers Cider Bold Black Cherry and Bulmers Cider Pressed Red Grape. Both come in 568ml bottles and 6x568ml multipacks. To coincide with this, Bulmers No.17 is being renamed as Bulmers Cider Crushed Red Berries & Lime.

rrp: £2.19 (568ml)

tel: 0131 528 1000

Perfect pairing

In July 2012 Heineken added Strongbow Pear. It has been hugely successful, according to sales director Martin Porter, making flavoured cider more accessible to mainstream cider drinkers.

The 4.8% abv drink is available in 4x500ml cans and 6x330ml bottles.

rrp: £3.50 to £3.99 (4x500ml cans)

tel: 0131 528 1000