No longer seen as a low-end, high ABV product, cider is now trendy and popular with the ‘in-crowd,’ attendees at the Canadean International Beer Strategies Conference in Amsterdam heard recently.
The cider category shows a number of parallels with craft beer, with authenticity, craftsmanship, and high quality ingredients all attracting consumers.
Flavoured cider grew at a CAGR of 22.3% between 2011 and 2014, according to market researcher body Canadean. Compare that to apple cider, which declined by 2.4% in the same period.
At the same time, seasonal ciders grew by 6.8% while pear ciders were up 3.7%.
“It’s no longer just about apples,” said Kevin Baker, account director, Canadean.
“If we look at the growth rates for flavoured ciders and apple ciders, it’s flavoured ciders that are massively outperforming the market. While the cider category is booming… it’s flavoured ciders that are driving the market.”
“We’re seeing a huge range of flavoured ciders. Very interestingly we’re seeing an overlap with other alcoholic beverages. Like we saw with beer – you see the interest in espresso, coffee or pumpkin flavours – in cider, we see amaretto flavoured cider,” (Orwell’s amaretto flavoured cider was launched in June last year).
41% of cider drinkers say they are interested in such fusion products, especially younger adults. These include pairing wine with cider, or spirits with cider (‘spider’ drinks).
Craft beer and cider
The movement in cider reflects the trends in beer, and particularly craft beer, said Baker.
“We’re seeing increasing growth in artisanal ciders, the whole craft movement is spilling over into cider as well. Just like beer, we have a lot of brands that already had a huge amount of heritage, were already very local. But we’re now beginning to see a lot of new entrants, a lot of craft style entrants in the category.”
Pairing alcohol with food is a popular concept that has moved through wine, to beer, and now onto cider. Cider aficionados run courses teaching people how to match cider with dishes.
“The serving, pairing with food, this is something that craft brewers have done a huge amount of work with in beer,” said Baker. “Cider is now beginning to ride this trend as well.”
Other parallels can be drawn between beer and cider: a focus on coolness and affiliation with the music scene; a focus on origin of ingredients (whether it’s apples or hops); marketing campaigns focused on humour, and retro style packaging.
Cider is still a UK-centric product, but people’s perception of the beverage has changed.
“Long gone is the perception that cider is a low cost, high ABV product,” said Baker. “Now it’s extremely trendy, very much for the in-crowd.”
One of the drivers of the shift has been the interest of large brewing groups in the category, helping change perceptions with innovative campaigns, he added.