Heineken has declared that its new Strongbow cloudy cider will be the biggest alcohol launch in 2015 after allocating a £8 million marketing budget to promote it.

It is the most Heineken has ever spent on promoting a new product and will include advertising on TV, billboards, mobile and social media.

It will spend £1 million on a national sampling campaign that will hand out 700,000 samples to drinkers in city centres and other busy areas.

Innovation director Sam Fielding said: “Cloudy cider has some baggage around it – that it’s flat, potentially wildly inconsistent and potentially a very high abv. 

“We wanted to make it really refreshing, great tasting and with an accessible abv of 4.5%. It’s a great choice for people that want to trade up and move on within the category. We are really, really excited about this.

“We recognise that provenance and heritage is important. People want to know the back-story of a brand. That’s why craft is doing really well at the moment. A lot of consumers have come into the category in the past decade through fruit cider.

“As they get older they are starting to rethink and they want something that’s a little more true to what the category has always been about, more discernment beyond the world of flavours. The idea of authentic apple ciders is really interesting to people again. We believe we can make something credible here.

“Strongbow Cloudy Apple is a modern take on a traditional cider. It will come in a number of SKUs but critically a 50cl bottle. A single bottle helps show that it’s cloudy.”

The new drink will be priced in line with Strongbow Dark Fruit and will be available in three SKUs: a 50cl bottle, a 10x44cl can pack and a 4x44cl can pack.

Martin Porter, managing director for off-trade, added: “Strongbow plays a key role in growing the cider category by tapping into existing trends, making them accessible to the mainstream market and increasing sales for retailers.

“Strongbow Dark Fruit is a prime example of this. For Strongbow Cloudy Apple, we’re giving traditional cloudy cider a modern twist, bringing our customers another new and exciting cider that responds to changing consumer tastes.  We are already seeing strong performance in the on-trade, and we’re confident that this great tasting liquid is going to fly off the shelves.”

Cider is struggling in the UK after a decade of uninterrupted growth, and Heineken believes innovation will reinvigorate the category.

Trade marketing director Craig Clarkson said: “In cider we are losing shoppers. Shoppers we brought in from wine and spirits are seeing attracting things happening in wine and spirits. Cava is cheap right now, and Prosecco too. We are looking to keep drinkers from straying into other categories.”

He believes the convenience channel can make more of growing brands like the Old Mout fruit cider range.

“Old Mout has 81% distribution in grocery and 31% in impulse,” said Clarkson. “This is a well-established product now. We are into our fourth product now.

“There is an opportunity for smaller retailers to use Old Mout to rotate their ranges.

It allows shoppers to experiment. They can come into your store and try something new.”