Scottish Courage is planning to launch a new premium cider as it aims to fend off the potential threat from Irish brand Magners.
Magners, a huge success story in Ireland, was originally launched in the UK into Scotland and entered the Scottish off-trade two years ago.
It is now launching a major marketing and advertising campaign in southern England.
Magners developed strong brand recognition from the Irish on-trade for its unique sales positioning. Marketing manager Maurice Breen stated: “Our marketing has all been focused around communicating the quality and the fact that Magners is best drunk over ice.”
ScotCo will announce details
of its new product in the next few weeks, but there is speculation it will be a premium version of its market-leading Strongbow brand. It has also redesigned all of the Strongbow
packaging, supported by a £22m marketing investment, in a bid to improve perception of it as a quality brand.
Since taking over the brand from Bulmers in 2003, ScotCo has been working to restore value to the category, which has suffered from irresponsible promotions and pack sizes.
Keith Hogg, ScotCo’s off-trade MD, said: “We have been working hard to address the negative characteristics associated with the fixture. But it is incredibly disappointing to hear some competitors are still committed to 3-litre formats.”
The move into the premium category follows the launch of Orchard Reserve last October by Constellation Wines, owner of Gaymers, Blackthorn and Diamond White cider brands.
Latest figures from ACNielsen show that the cider category is showing a 1% value growth after a long period of decline [MAT, 52 weeks to March 19, 2005].
Ronan Hegarty