Cider is synonymous with summer drinking, but producers both big and small are hoping to broaden its appeal all year round. And their efforts appear to be working.
“It’s a popular misconception that cider is a drink solely for the warmer months,” argues Darryl Hinksman, head of business development at Westons Cider.
Hinksman notes sales of its 8.2% abv Henry Westons Vintage cider were 7.2% higher in four weeks of autumn than in four weeks of spring, when longer, lighter days typically inspire consumers to look towards the summer [IRI].
A similar trend has been spotted by Molson Coors. Sales of Aspall were up 16% in the off-trade year on year over 12 weeks to 25 February 2023 [IRI].
Then there’s Thatchers. The brand’s sales rose 42.3% last Easter [IRI 9-30 April]. Cider needs “excitement year-round to maintain shoppers’ interest”, says commercial director Jonathan Nixon. It’s invested in trialling and sampling at events and festivals, as well as TV ads.
Seasonal lines may also help. Thatchers Blood Orange – a flavour often associated with the winter months – was the most successful off-trade cider launch of 2022 [Kantar].
The line “performs particularly well and sees an annual October sales spike, which grows each year”, says head of marketing Nicola Randall.
Such launches tally with the advice of cider expert Gabe Cook, who says educating shoppers about the broad range of styles could convince them to appreciate it year-round.
“Ciders from western counties using these tannic apple varieties with a bold, rich structure, much like a red wine, could have appeal in the winter months,” he says.
Small cidermaker Little Pomona points to the success in decoupling wine from specific seasons as inspiration. “It used to be the case that beaujolais was only drunk in November and rosé wines in the summer. That is, until producers began to break ranks, then importers and distributors,” says co-founder James Forbes.
To achieve a similar feat in cider, it began its Not Just For Summer campaign in February. That coincided with the launch of its new cider, Disco Nouveau 2022.
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