If you’re still thinking of cider as a summer drink, you’re missing a trick. More than half of alcohol drinkers will enjoy a cider at least once a month during the winter. Nikki Allen finds out how you can keep sales high in colder months.
A year long opportunity
Suppliers all agree: cider isn’t nearly as summer-biased as it was a few years ago.
“The cider market is not as obviously seasonal as it used to be as producers have managed to capture the imagination of cider drinkers for all-year-round occasions,” says Darryl Hinksman, Westons head of customer marketing & insight.
“December tends to be the second biggest month of the year after July in terms of sales at Westons, and November is not far behind.”
Glen Friel, sales & marketing director at Aston Manor Cider agrees. “While cider benefits from a boost in the summer, consumers’ taste for cider continues with socialising occasions throughout the year.”
Cider brings in around £200m-worth of sales between December and February.
According to Martin Thatcher, managing director at Thatchers Cider, sales in the week leading up to Christmas last year were higher than any other week of the year.
“Cider is an exciting market to be in – it’s changing all the time,” says Thatcher. “Retailers have a huge opportunity to benefit from these changes – that’s why, during the winter months, cider should remain a key area of your alcohol offering.”
Refresh your range for autumn
The key to a successful cider range that works across all four seasons is to stock a year-round core range in the most popular formats and supplement it with a limited range of premium, craft or seasonal specials.
As the nights draw in and the weather gets colder, mulled cider is a perfect addition to retailers’ cider displays, says Friel. He suggests looking into stocking mulled ciders or merchandising mulled spice kits with your cider range.
Thatcher says consumers move towards ciders that are fuller in flavour, richer and bolder in autumn and winter, so you should consider this when deciding what to put on your fixture or promote.
What’s more, advises Hinksman, in the run-up to Christmas and in January, you should make sure you cater for designated drivers with low or no-alcohol drinks. “Low-alcohol ciders taste much more like their parent products than low-alcohol beers,” he says. “Stowford Press LA contains just 0.5% ABV and is a popular choice.”
But bestselling apple ciders should be the mainstay of retailers’ chillers. Apple cider accounts for 69.6% of total cider sales.
It’s also important to make sure that you give the right space to the right formats – cans make up 46.7% of ciders sales, while glass bottles account for 28.4% of volume sales.
Make the most of sales
To boost cider sales outside of the summer, you should think about the reasons consumers are likely to drink it.
For example, in autumn and winter, promotions should be targeted at shoppers looking to stock up for a night in or a festive party.
Suppliers says multipack cans provide a convenient option for parties.
Matching cider with food is another trend to cash in on. Thatcher says: “Pairing cider with food is what everyone is talking about – display cider alongside seasonal food with pairing suggestions, offering customers another reason to purchase.”
When it comes to merchandising, it’s important to keep similar formats together. Both 330ml and 440ml cans should be merchandised alongside each other, as should bottles and multipacks.
“Given that cider should be served chilled, make space for these brands in your chiller,” says Friel. “Premium glass bottles should be at eye level, while mid-size cans should be towards the bottom.”
To help your cider brands stand out all year round, Hinksman suggests displaying interesting information for customers, such as tasting notes, brief outlines of the cider-making process or brand story information, as well as making use of suppliers’ PoS on shelves and in your chillers.
“The weather affects our cider sales, but generally they are a good seller here.
“We have a full off-licence in our store and stock brands like Bulmers, Kopperberg, Strongbow and Magners as well as White Star and Barnstormer.
“I find flavoured varieties do not sell as well as apple here, as it seems people are dubious about trying fruit flavours – we’ve tried stocking some and we’ve found them hard to shift.”
One Stop, Derbyshire