Cider has a weather problem. More specifically, people only seem to want to drink it in the summer.
The latest Nielsen data, which shows that cider sales grew by 5.5% up to the middle of July, is interesting. It draws a direct line between sun and sales.
Met Office stats showed that this May was the second warmest on record, and that June was the equal fifth warmest. Cider sales between the middle of May and the middle of June flew up by 16%.
Could retailers treat cider almost as a seasonal drink – like on-the-go ice cream, but with a longer winter tail?
The Nielsen expert on the liquor industry, Helen Stares, is quoted as saying that the “key to long-term and sustainable growth is making itself more attractive to people outside of the barbecue season”.
There are two ways of looking at this. Could retailers treat cider almost as a seasonal drink – like on-the-go ice cream, but with a longer winter tail? Or should retailers focus on the time between Easter and September and leave cider alone outside of this?
Anish Parekh of Broadoak Road Post Office (Londis) in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, told us that he has driven year-round sales with bulk-buy deals and offers on the big name products – Strongbow, Magners, Kopperberg and Thatchers.
I like this approach. I remember speaking with the ice cream brand-building director at Unilever last year. He was clear that there is real value in take-home ice cream sales during colder months. They might not buy a Magnum and walk down the street with it, but they will buy a pot of Ben & Jerry’s and sit curled up on the sofa.
Images of sun-dappled orchards and crisp bubbly liquid have led the marketing of cider for a number of years. But for the months when this doesn’t happen there is still real value in pushing the big names, to your regular customers, as a brilliant in-home option.
As the autumn rain starts to fall, now might – somewhere strangely – be the perfect time to think about your cider sales over the next six months.