From summer picnics and home cocktails to the World Cup opportunity in winter, Drinks Retailing explores how retailers can tap into cider occasions all year round
A staple at barbecues and festivals, cider is a quintessential drink of the British summer.
“It goes without saying that when the sun shines, cider – and fruit cider in particular – becomes the drink of choice for consumers,” says Tom Holmes, Kopparberg’s senior customer marketing manager.
But looking beyond summer, there is an array of occasions for retailers to make the most of cider as it becomes a year-round favourite with consumers seeking refreshment. Holmes notes that 43% of cider drinkers are consuming through the winter, and with the World Cup coming up in November and December, it seems cider occasions can go far beyond the drink’s sunny season appeal.
The Westons Cider Report 2022 finds that one of the main motivations behind cider drinking occasions is to “spend quality time” with loved ones, often in a “good outdoor area”. Holmes agrees, saying that “any opportunity for social, at-home drinking occasions” is a chance for cider.
“Summer is big for the category, but so are Easter, Halloween, Bonfire Night and sporting events, with cider actually seeing a bigger sales uplift from sporting events than beer,” he says.
“Cider performs so strongly in winter, especially the last six weeks of the year, and that uplifts significantly around football, so it should form a prominent part of any World Cup plans this year”.
THE CONVENIENCE PULL
Morrisons has already anticipated the opportunity, with a spokesperson saying: “We’ve launched some exciting products in this category, including Strongbow Dark Fruit Ultra, as well as Lilley’s cider, which is exclusive to Morrisons. We expect the World Cup to create another opportunity later in the year as friends and family get together to celebrate the football as well as the festive period.”
Simon Theakston, joint managing director at Theakston Brewery, agrees that cider “really is an all-year-round drink”, adding that it is often associated with “early autumn at the time of harvest”.
The company has recently released Theakston Paradise Gold in 50cl bottles. The cider takes its name in tribute to the apple trees that once grew in what is now the extended brewery yard at Theakston’s Red Lane brewery site, once known as Paradise Fields.
Theakston says he finds single serve 50cl bottles to be popular with customers across the board as cider stands as a favourite for outdoor drinking occasions. “To capitalise on this market, retailers and producers should look to highlight the convenience that single serve cider offers,” he says.
“The pack size makes it an ideal accompaniment for outdoor gatherings and sporting events, as well as many other drinking occasions.”
The convenience factor is perhaps one of cider’s biggest assets when it comes to breadth of drinking occasions. From single bottles to multipacks of cans, cider boasts on-the-go accessibility. In terms of packaging, the Westons Cider Report notes that cans represent 50% of the market.
Westons recommends offering a “choice across four-packs, 10-packs and bigger value packs” to cater to convenience-seeking consumers who are buying for themselves, a gathering or a full-on party.
Kopparberg’s Holmes adds: “Four-packs are the perfect product for unscheduled barbecues and picnics as they offer a balance of having a relatively low retail price, while not being a single unit – these are perfect products to be kept in a chiller for that very reason.”
However, he still recommends keeping a stock of single bottles for curious consumers: “Look to offer breadth of range with single bottles to ensure you capture light shoppers who are looking to try a few different things.”
And for retailers looking to maximise the opportunity for cider, Holmes suggests offering larger packs on key dates throughout the year, rather than just in summer.
“The available space in-store will determine if large packs should be stocked all year round, but for key events – bank holidays, heatwaves, World Cups etc – they are a must for feature space. At these moments, consumers look for bigger packs and these are a great way to get more cash in the till,” he notes.
AT THE BAR
Beyond convenience, cider can add a point of difference to the at-home cocktail offer – especially since lockdowns inspired more consumers to mix drinks in their homes. Drinks expect and Sunday Brunch regular Pritesh Mody says cider can lend itself to cocktails just as well as sparkling wine.
“For example, fruitier French ciders are delicious in spritz-style drinks such as the French 75, particularly with a few red berries thrown in,” he says. “Similarly, drier styles are ideal in a Bourbon Collins, where the sweet, rich whiskey is the perfect contrast to the cold, crisp cider.”
Mody’s latest cider cocktail creation is the Rosé Cidre Spritz, which mixes Wignac Le Goupil Cidre Rosé, lemon juice, gin and elderflower cordial.