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Alcohol is a market driven by the experimenters, the insatiable consumers who are constantly seeking something new. betterRetailing looks at what cider trends should be on your radar.
When cider’s popularity began to come to the fore a few years ago, it was modern ciderbrands, such as Bulmers and Magners, that attracted consumers.
They offered interesting fruit flavours and an over-ice serving suggestion. But now many consumers are trading out of that category to find new and interesting brands elsewhere.
Craig Clarkson, off-trade category & trade marketing director for Heineken, told Retail Express: “I think we will see the market turn itself around. There’s a lot we can still do for experimenters in this category and Bulmers Wild Blueberry & Lime is still right on point for them.”
The good news for the category is that consumers are trading up from value, modern and classic cider brands to world ciders, such as Rekorderlig, Kopparberg and Old Mout.
“There are still some shops that don’t have enough of a world cider range to be able to cater for people wanting to trade out of modern cider,” Clarkson adds.Tapping into the £42m that is now spent on small cans within the category, Old Mout is introducing a 4x330ml pack that can be stocked in the fridge.
Premium products do particularly well in the convenience channel, where limited shelf space encourages retailers to stock higher-margin lines to increase profits.
Geoff Bradman, Westons commercial director, says consumers are looking to trade up all the time and the current trend for premium products is set to keep developing. “While cider is declining 2.3% in total in retail, it is growing 0.5% in convenience,” he adds.
There has also been a shift back to cider’s apple heartland. Though flavoured ciders provided an easy entry level for many consumers, shoppers are now seeking to explore more of what the category has to offer.
Debs Carter, alcohol marketing director at SHS Drinks, which owns Merrydown Cider, says: “Apple cider is now growing ahead of flavoured cider in impulse stores with a 17% uplift in sales value and volume. If more than half of the shelf space is given over to fruit flavoured ciders, it will certainly need rebalancing.”
Don’t drive down prices on bestsellers
With supermarkets continuing to offer deep deals, it can be easy for smaller retailers to feel pressured into competing with them on their terms by offering discounted large multipacks.
Though this can provide a short-term win, it can also harm your business as you may alienate shoppers from buying from your store because the right pack formats aren’t available.
Shoppers are upgrading to world cider or are leaving classic cider altogether.
Convenience stores should focus on offering chilled small packs to tap into people buying cider to have with their dinner or a quiet night in and only bring in large multipacks for the occasional promotion. Heineken’s Craig Clarkson says: “I don’t think there’s enough retailers jumping on the fact that 37% of shoppers will trade up if there’s a specific merchandising solution for a mission.”
“In the past couple of years the popularity of cider has really grown. A lot of varieties have come into the market, and there’s a trend for different flavours. That’s the biggest reason for growth.
“We’ve increased our range. It used to be just big bottles and some cans, but we’ve given a lot more space over to it.
“We’re looking for new lines as there’s a demand for something new in this category, and if it does well then we’ll keep it as one of our regular lines.”
Ensuring that your range is priced in a way that helps customers distinguish the quality between the brands in your range is the first step to getting shoppers to understand the difference in quality between brands.
Clarkson says: “You should tier your prices to go from modern ciders, then world ciders and then even more premium ciders above that. Helping people trade up is really important.”
That’s not to say that this should come at a sacrifice of the core offer.
Glen Friel, sales & marketing director for Aston Manor Cider, says: “Our mainstream brand Frosty Jack’s, continues to be our biggest selling cider and is still the second largest take-home apple cider brand after Strongbow, based almost entirely on sales from independent and convenience channels.”
Find your niche
Cider is also beginning to be affected by some of the trends in beer and lager. This has resulted in an increased focus on niche cider. Clarkson says: “I can see this area developing into craft cider and we’ll see the trends that affected beer start to affect cider, local, authenticity, provenance, complexity.”
Friel agrees. “One of the big trends impacting the alcohol market currently is the rising consumer interest in provenance and quality,” he explains.
Consumers are increasingly looking for brands with heritage such as Merrydown, Westons, Thatchers and Aspall. Glass bottled cider is now seen as offering a more premium product and is now of increased importance to convenience retailers. SHS Drinks’ Debs Carter says: “The premium glass bottled cider sector alone generates around £79m a year in sales for impulse stores.”
Shoppers are now drinking less. This means that growth in the category has to come from offering shoppers brands that they want to pay more for. Martin Thatcher, managing director of Thatchers Cider, says: “The traditional premium cider sector is vital for the category.
“Glass bottles currently account for more than half of value sales in the cider category and it’s clear that people want bottles as well as cans, and they want to multi-buy.”
Martin Thatcher Thatchers Cider
Emerging craft cider brands provide the authenticity that consumers are looking for. “Craft cider is a huge opportunity for convenience stores. The products attract a higher margin and will help retailers increase basket spend in store,” says Westons’ Geoff Bradman.
Daf Pugh Williams, senior innovation commercialisation manager at Diageo, agrees. “There is an inescapable excitement currently around products with authenticity, craftsmanship and character. Consumers are increasingly curious about the products they purchase and want to treat themselves with rewarding products and experiences,” he explains.
Whether you call it heritage cider, niche cider or craft cider, these brands are important to promote in your store for a point of difference. Angela Ham, customer marketing controller at C&C brands, which owns Magners and Chaplin & Cork’s, says despite only having a 6% share of the impulse market, craft cider is showing a growth in value of 22% over the last quarter alone, up 19% on last year.
“We expect this is because drinkers are now favouring a more authentic taste, and so attention is beginning to move back towards the apple segment – which currently owns 65% of the total market,” she adds.
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