According to CGA Strategy, sales volumes of packaged fruit cider rose by 6.5% in 2015 and by a further 6.2% last year.
In fact, the cider category as a whole is in rude health. It has an estimated value of almost £1.85bn in the UK on-trade, accounts for 7.6%% of total alcohol sales and provides 10,900 jobs, according to CGA Strategy data.
Draught fruit cider has also experienced an uptick, rising to become 16.8% of the overall volume in the draught cider segment, up from 7.9% last year.
Yet, producers rightly see opportunity for further growth within the packaged fruit-cider segment in pubs. Heineken-owned brand Old Mout, for instance, pumped £5m into a new marketing campaign this summer to attract more people to the Great British pub.
London pub group Young’s bought into the brand and rolled Old Mout out across its entire estate in April this year. The group’s reason for doing this was to introduce an “innovative fruit cider”.
Following this rollout Young’s saw a surge in packaged cider sales, up 14.1% which the company directly attributed to Old Mout.
Young’s wanted a comprehensive range of flavours to offer its customers and Old Mout’s Strawberry & Pomegranate, Kiwi & Lime, Passionfruit & Apple and Summer Berries ticked all of the boxes.
"Customers want something refreshing and something that complements the weather, so summer is the key time for it"
It was important to launch the new offer with a real bang, to ensure customers knew about the range, according to Young’s marketing projects manager Tom Elliott-Frey.
To do this, Young’s hosted mini festivals in a number of its pub gardens where a ‘wheel of flavour’ was also launched, with drinkers spinning a wheel to help them learn more about the cider and decide the flavour of Old Mout they should drink.
Feedback from customers throughout the events was positive and brought the brand into the forefront of their minds, according to Elliott-Frey, who says: “Drinkers loved the packaging, they thought it was something quirky and we hit the nail on the head when it comes to bringing the brand to life.
'Launch the platform for the summer'
“It was a great launch platform for the summer and this was in line with the activation which came with launching the brand in the pubs.
“We could show the customers how the cider should be served properly with fresh fruit garnishes, served in bespoke branded, ice-filled glassware, which we find is vital in delivering the experience consumers can’t get at home.
“Old Mout is really important especially during the summer months where there’s customer demand. It plays a vital role in delivering an option that is refreshing to the drinker.”
Elliott-Frey also emphasises how crucial the weather is to the sales of flavoured cider, adding: “Customers want something refreshing and something that complements the weather, so summer is the key time for it.
“Our customers especially are looking to spend more time out-of-home, ideally outdoors in the pub garden.”
“So pubs should really push their packaged fruit ciders in the warmer months, as this is when their refreshing and thirst-quenching qualities can be taken advantage of,” he adds.
However, this does not mean fruit cider is out in the winter, as Elliott-Frey suggests mulling fruit ciders to serve during the colder months.
“For us, especially at Christmas, we like to do warmed drinks, so mulled wine is a given. But a mulled Old Mout option going into the colder months would continue to help drive sales,” he adds.
“There are mulled cider opportunities, meaning cider can serve all occasions from any individuals – from the couples who come in for an evening drink before dinner, to warming up an individual on a cold winter’s night.”
Packaged fruit cider is also an ideal category to invest in when trying to attract a younger audience to the pub. It has a clear younger demographic, with 41% of consumption coming from those aged 18 to 34-year-olds and with the 35 to 54-year-old bracket closely behind (37%).
While Young’s agrees that the younger demographic is the main target audience for flavoured cider, it does not exclude any age groups, Elliott-Frey maintains.
“The main drinkers of cider are groups of friends, coming to the pub over the weekend,” he adds.
With that in mind, the category has a bright future ahead. As Elliott-Frey outlines: “If you’re out to surprise and delight your customers, this will help grow the category.
'Ticking all the boxes'
“By doing what they are doing at the moment, Old Mout is ticking all the boxes.”
“Being able to make flavoured cider available and interesting throughout the year illustrates the versatility it has and this is something Young’s is particularly excited about,” he adds.
He claims that by offering Old Mout, the pub group is giving its drinkers a premium cider offer – exactly what they want.
“This is in line with Young’s being a premium pub group, so it makes sense to align ourselves with a premium fruit-cider brand,” he says.
Premium is a great trend for fruit cider to tap into and grow, which Elliott-Frey is adamant can only be beneficial to pubs that stock it.
He says: “Customers are looking for more premium serves to drink alone as well as pairing with food. Going to the pub should be an experience and Old Mout is helping provide just that.
“It’s not just a pint of cider, it’s delivering the full breadth of what the brand is and bringing that to life via the serve.”
Provenance and heritage are trends that have swept across all drinks categories and this is something cider can capitalise on.
The story behind a drinks brand is important to consumers as they are becoming increasingly promiscuous and want something they can relate to.
Elliott-Frey adds: “Provenance is vital as drinkers want to know where the product comes from and its authenticity of ingredients and for us, that was key.
“Serving Old Mout with fresh garnishes and in bespoke branded glassware and telling the story of where it came from, works in line with our philosophy and strategy.”
This feature was sponsored by Heineken-owned packaged fruit cider brand Old Mout and written by The Morning Advertiser