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Somerset is the home of cider, but mainstream brands like Strongbow and Magners are not among our best sellers. Where we do benefit from them is their TV ad campaigns. The exposure that Strongbow, Magners and Stella Cidre adverts give cider certain gives the category a boast.
Our three leading cider brands are all from Somerset: Sheppys, from Bradford on Tone; the Somerset Cider Brandy Company who are at Kingsbury; and Episcopi and Harry’s Cider who make their cider near Langport. We stock 28 different ciders, of which 18 are from local makers and all but 2 of these lines are in bottles.
There are some specific things to understand about the local cider market and understanding them ensures that I stock products that my customers want. We don’t have a demand for high strength cider or flavoured varieties. My customers just want traditional ciders. I do notice that having a majority of my cider range from outside of the nationally advertised/promoted brands places much less price resistance from customers on our 500ml bottles.
Another sales opportunity that locally sourced products provide is to visitors to the area as gifts. The 1litre cider flagons particularly help to cater to this market. Another product that sells well to visitors is Somerset Cider Brandy – a product that has PGI protected status. I am also pleased to be able to tell customers that my store, Martins of Castle Cary, was that first shop to sell the product in 1989.
I find that one of the best things about selling cider made in Somerset, as well as all the other local produce we stock, is that we get great support we get from producers. When I want to put on a tasting they are always willing to assist us with stock and advertising material. A win for us is a win for them!
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