Cider continues its inexorable march

27 June, 2008

It seems a long time since the dark days of Bulmers, a seemingly moribund brand which was over-traded, under-packaged and over the hill. The big plastic bottles with 50% extra free symbolised everything that was wrong with the cider market. It had lost confidence in itself and consumers soon felt the same way. Cider was on the rocks - and not in the sense we use that phrase now.

Bulmers' repackaging exercise was obviously spurred by the stellar performance of Magners, and only a severely deluded person would argue the new design didn't owe something to its Irish rival. Retailers don't mind about that: they're just pleased to see such a vibrant category again.

Brand owner Scottish & Newcastle has added a Light variant to the range, with 30% fewer calories, and is ambitious for more growth in the coming year.

"S&N UK will support the Bulmers cider portfolio with a 22 million marketing investment programme that includes TV and radio advertising, POS merchandising and heavyweight consumer sampling," said a spokeswoman.

As market leader, stablemate Strongbow was never likely to grow as dramatically as Bulmers, but 22.3% is pretty remarkable for a brand that's been at the top of the tree for so long. S&N is promising "a 27 million marketing support programme".

This will feature a similar line-up of support to that being offered to its Bulmers stablemate - namely national TV and radio ads, POS material and a major sampling campaign.

A spokeswoman added: "S&N UK will also continue to launch Strongbow in new pack formats to meet evolving consumer needs and market trends."

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