As a big fan of cider, I’ve watched with interest the recent revival in this category. I can’t put my finger on what exactly triggered it, but cider has reinvented itself in a big way. There are so many more brands on the market, and the cider drinker is no longer just a beer-averse female. Cider is making an impact on beer drinking territory across Australia, and it’s not slowing down.
Australian alcoholic cider sales have been growing in leaps and bounds since 2008, with an average national growth rate of 40%. Compared to 12.2% share in the UK, Australia at just over 1% market share, has been sluggish with the uptake of cider. Until now. It is now the fastest growing liquor category in Australia.
The category’s pioneer is Strongbow, which now has a massive Australian distribution network and penetration through to just about every restaurant’s beverage list across the country. The brand’s repositioning strategy, launched in 2000, set about tackling the beer drinker and repositioning the product as another option to beer. With a strong events sponsorship strategy and a big brand building budget, 11 years later, Strongbow is leading the way amongst the commercialised products.
Mercury, Bulmers, Tooheys 5 Seeds, and Little Creatures’ Pipsqueak are just a small handful of the other brands making a mark. Local to WA, Harvey Fresh’s wine offshoot, Harvey River Bridge Estate, has just released and begun distribution of their own cider offering, Graci. I tried another cider brand called ‘3 Kings’ on the weekend, and the way the product’s label and packing is designed is a perfect example of how the market is repositioning itself.
The 3 Kings packaging and glass is completely black, so you can’t really see what you’re drinking (and neither can anyone else). The cider itself is no where near as sweet as some of the others, therefore, positioned firmly at the male.
Pear cider is another offshoot to this category gaining some traction, with Strongbow recently releasing a pear version and with many others popping up.
And then there’s the introduction of a ‘sub-market’ if you like; the people who love a good, unrefined cider without the manufactured taste of the mass market stuff. Enter the boutique cider makers. These guys are popping up everywhere! Either they’re micro wine or beer makers branching out into a new market, or they’re start-ups who have smartly recognised the revival of this category. One of my favourites, the Cidery in Bridgetown, who traditionally sold their product direct from their ‘cellar door’, has expanded their distribution and is now selling their product in quite a few local liquor stores.
I’ve also noticed liquor stores placing a lot more shelf, floor and fridge space to cider. Where once I had to search and sometimes ask where the cider was, it’s now much more obvious, much closer to the sales desk, and receiving much more space than ever before.
The cider revival is an amazing example of how a category has begun to reinvent itself. Of how brands and products can be repositioned, and how a simple choice of colours and packaging materials can determine whether a drink is ‘cool’ or not. I will continue to watch the cider revival with interest.
Get out and try a new brand of cider this weekend – it’s well worth it!