The drink for all seasons

Related tags Cider Blackthorn

Summer is traditionally the season for cider, but licensees can cash in on the drink all the year round.The popular view of cider is that it is,...

Summer is traditionally the season for cider, but licensees can cash in on the drink all the year round.

The popular view of cider is that it is, perhaps, the most refreshing drink of all. It is certainly an attractive prospect to consider the enjoyment of a crisp, chilled pint of cider when the sun is shining.

As a consequence sales of draught amber cider are inextricably linked to the hours of sunshine, which is why the summer months are key to the health of the category. Even without being prompted very many consumers will opt to switch to drinking cider as it is an important repertoire drink for them.

Publicans will recognise this because they experience it first hand. Many are also aware that different ciders provide opportunities all year around and can match the drinking occasions for very different consumers.

With cider offering consistently high margins, the publicans that do take cider seriously will discover a strong financial reward.

The principles of success are very simple - understand your customers and understand the occasions when they drink, and the versatility and importance of the cider category will be obvious.

The first feature on Category Management identified the main drinking occasions. It is possible to match these against an opportunity for incremental and profitable cider sales.

Food occasions

Cider has long been recognised as an ideal accompaniment to food. With food becoming a more important element of the business for any style of outlet, it is worth considering how to link profitable cider sales to the food offering. A linked promotion combining food and a glass of cider, eg Gaymers Olde English and a traditional Ploughman's, can be a great way to drive both food and cider sales.

Another very popular combination is the clean, crisp taste of Blackthorn and spicy food dishes, especially Indian and Chinese cuisine - which is why so many "Curry Clubs" have found Blackthorn so popular.

In outlets, where the emphasis is upon providing a wide selection of guest ales, home cooking and a relaxed atmosphere, then a more traditional style of cider like Addlestones can really compliment the food offering.

Cider is also popular as an ingredient in cooking. Actually, Gaymers Olde English has teamed up with James Martin, the celebrity chef from Ready, Steady, Cook, to produce a range of tasty summer and winter recipes which celebrate the use cider in cooking.

With Gaymers Olde English making a welcome return in a draught form it is worth considering how cider can be a theme on the menu.

Sociable get together and meeting friends

Sports teams are a regular feature in many outlets and are a valuable source of revenue throughout the year.

Whether the pub is the "local" for a football or cricket team or the place to meet after a game of squash, there will always be opportunities to build sales by featuring the refreshing qualities of ciders like Blackthorn.

In summary

Viewing cider predominantly as a seasonal drink, risks missing the array of opportunities the category presents.

If you're serious about cider, look beyond the summer months.

Linking cider to key trading periods in the outlet will increase both turnover and profitability.

Big nights out and celebrations

The drinking repertoire of the typical consumer on a "big night out" will inevitably include cider.

For these consumers, cider fits perfectly with the fun, irreverent and lively occasions they enjoy - which is why the "Up for It" campaigns from Diamond White and Diamond Red have been such a hit in bars and clubs. More of the same is planned for this year in a major campaign for the Diamond brands to be launched soon.

This same group of consumers also appreciates the versatility of cider. The more experimental are prepared to try new tastes and flavours, in a packaged form this has prompted the recent launch of Diamond Fruzion in two styles - Exotic Fruit and Citrus Fruit.

A relatively new phenomenon is the cider-based cocktail.

Not only do they offer an enhanced margin versus selling pints of cider, but just as significantly, it means new consumers are introduced to the category and cider sales grow significantly whatever the time of year.

Case study: Destiny nightclub, Glasgow

Andy Nicol and his team at Destiny were looking for some new ideas when inspiration struck! Andy explains: "I said to the team 'what about a jug of Blackthorn, a Virgin NT and a dash of blackcurrant - and we'll call them Big Pink Jugs!' We did it and it has been amazing."

In fact Destiny has increased sales of Blackthorn from a keg a week to ten kegs a week. Now they are working with Blackthorn to create other ideas that exploit the versatility of cider.

Matthew Clark Cider​Gary Chaffey: 01275 890778

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