The latest entry to the cider market comes not from a West Country cider farm nor from the power-houses of Magners or Bulmers, but from WKD.
That's right, the brash ready-to-drink (RTD) brand that has marketed its way to continued success since its 1990s heyday. Owned by Beverage Brands, WKD is to make a radical move into the cider market in May with the launch of brand extension Core.
WKD is one of few survivors in a rapidly-declining RTD market and Beverage Brands is looking to consolidate its place by putting the WKD name to a semi-sweet bottled cider.
Capitalising on what is a booming cider market may seem a no-brainer, but WKD is the first RTD to do so. Others have toyed with cider, Global Brands launching a cider-inspired pear version of Vodka Kick, but none have launched a conventional cider before. It's the first time WKD's name will appear on a non-spirit-based product since its UK launch in 1996.
So why now for WKD? The answer to this question comes in detailed research by Beverage Brands into the cider category, establishing the growth potential left in those apples and pears and the scope for unusual products such as a WKD-branded variety that will appeal to otherwise-untapped consumers.
We all know about cider's boom. It is packaged cider specifically where Beverage Brands wanted a piece of the action. According to Nielsen, packaged has increased its share of the cider category by 19 per cent in two years.
Beverage Brands hopes Core will tap into this demand by attracting current RTD consumers and - as the company's marketing director Debs Carter puts it - "people who like the WKD brand but don't do RTDs".
Carter hopes it will "bring an element of modernity to cider" and appeal to a different set of consumers from other big brands.
While Core will be marketed as 'the cider with a WKD side' through outdoor, press, TV and online advertising this summer, Beverage Brands is urging pubs to promote it as a cider, not an RTD. Cases will bear the label "please put me with cider".
"It's very important for us to assert this is a cider," says Carter. "We want incremental fridge spaces here and to help pubs achieve incremental sales."
For a long time it has been said that cider is the new RTD. That might just prove to be right.
WKD's research into the cider market
Beverage Brands used research by TNS to establish scope for new brands in cider. It demonstrated that drinkers, once they have decided they want a packaged cider, narrow down that choice first to either dry/traditional or sweeter/contemporary ciders then to sub-sectors within those categories.
According to TNS, once customers have decided on a contemporary cider, they will then choose between either Bulmers and Magners or other brands, including fruit ciders. It is this last category within which WKD believes it can find a place.
Beverage Brands' research also looked at data from Nielsen pointing to the dominance of packaged cider by sweeter/contemporary variants. These have 90 per cent market share of packaged cider in the on-trade, according to Nielsen. Bulmers and Magners between them sell 77 per cent of sweeter/contemporary packaged cider, but others are rapidly gaining ground on them.
Lastly, the research project polled drinkers who indicated they would be receptive to a WKD-branded cider.