Brands keep on top by diversifying

Cider producers have quickly gained a reputation for being pioneers in new product development. Spokesman for the National Association of Cider Makers Simon Russell says: “The success of cider is being driven by innovation and investment, with the key and enduring elements of that being product quality and provenance.” Here’s a round-up of the NPD and marketing activity over the past year.

Warwickshire-based Hogan’s Cider laun­ched its 5.4% abv Vintage Perry 2009 in July this year and is planning to introduce a medium and dry vintage cider. The final abv is still being worked on but is expected to be below 6%. A spokeswoman says: “At some point next year [managing director] Allen Hogan is looking to bring in a still cider in a new format.” ?Aston Manor has been concentrating on Old Moors, according to brand manager Helen Jones. “This is because we have been investing heavily in expanding our production site in line with rapid growth of the business,” she explains.

Old Moors Pear Cider launched in January and has a national listing in Asda and regional listings in Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s.

White cider brand Frosty Jack’s has also been given a makeover to give it a simpler, premium appearance and communicate the high fruit content. A new advertising campaign is in the pipeline as part of a £1.5 million marketing campaign, which includes sponsorship of comedy prog­rammes on ITV2.

Heineken UK has “driven the Strong­bow brand through continuous marketing investment”, says Shaun Heyes, head of off-trade marketing. “A 30% increase this year includes the launch of a new phase of its Bowtime for Grafters TV campaign,” he adds. “It will run throughout the year and continue to position the brand as the ultimate reward in refreshment after a hard day’s work.” The marketing camp­aign also includes radio and outdoor advertising and two bursts of experiential activity this summer.

Strongbow is launching a spoof viral ad this month to be screened in cinemas showing Oliver Stone’s film

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

Building on the growth of flavoured cider, Heineken UK introduced Bulmers Summer Blend, a limited-edition variant which was launched in all channels in time for the summer trading season. Heyes says the next product is due to be launched in November “to create more trial and excitement in the brand and cider category in the run-up to Christmas and New Year”.

Heritage cider brand Symonds Founder’s Reserve was launched to the off-trade this summer in response to “the burgeoning premium cider category in the off-trade and consumers’ growing desire for products with true authenticity”.

Scrumpy Jack kick-started the “all- important” spring trading period with its biggest marketing push for three years. An on-pack promotion, exclusive to the off-trade, gave consumers the chance to enter a competition to win a week in an English country cottage.

John Edwards, marketing director of Jygsaw Brands, the sales and marketing company responsible for Scrumpy Jack, says marketing investment for 2010 behind Scrumpy Jack was £500,000, “significantly up on last year to continue to drive the momentum behind the brand”.

Thatchers launched its fruit variant Ciderberry in January, which, according to managing director Martin Thatcher, was “the natural progression for existing fruit cider con­sumers”.

He says the cider’s USP is its slightly drier taste and unique blend of black­currants, rasp­berries and blueberries. In March the cidermaker introduced oak- aged Green Goblin into the portfolio.

As well as launching its first consumer press ad campaign for its Katy Rosé cider brand last month, it also produced its first TV campaign for Thatchers Gold in the summer.

Kopparberg has

begun branching out into the ginger beer market – most recently

with Frank’s alcoholic ginger beer, but its parent company COS Brands also launched Kopparberg Strawberry & Lime in Tesco in May, followed by a listing in Sainsbury’s.

Managing director Davin Nugent says: “We have just finished a promotion in Morrisons which we hope will lead to a full listing. In the convenience channel, the new variant has been listed by Londis and Spar wholesaler Appleby Westward.

“Sales of Strawberry & Lime have not affected those of our other variants, rather it has contributed to the continued growth of the brand as a whole,” says Nugent.

The launch was supported by the brand’s first major ad campaign, Find Kopparberg, which ran across the UK in cinema, national newspapers and magazines. “By the end of the year, Kopparberg will have spent more than £4.5 million on advertising and marketing activity in the UK, its largest investment to date,” says Nugent.

He says the other “major launch of the year” was a Kopparberg Pear Cider 12x33cl can pack. “Specifically designed for the UK market, it proved a fantastic addition to the range, gaining strong off-shelf features during key promotional periods, particularly during the World Cup.”??In May Halewood International launched Brambles – a fruit cider targeted at 25 to 45-year-old women. There are white and rosé versions of the 5.5% abv pear cider-based drink in 75cl glass bottles.

Gaymer Cider Company launched Pear Cider with Berry Fruits in March. The launch followed findings in Gaymer’s Cider Nation research which showed fruit ciders would be one of the biggest growth opportunities for 2010 in cider. Berry Fruits is made using the juice of strawberries, black­berries and blackcurrants and is available in glass 33cl and 56.8cl bottles.

The company also brought back Dry Blackthorn in March following a Facebook campaign by a group of passionate cider drinkers in the south west. The outcry was in response to a relaunch of Blackthorn the previous year.

Brothers launched various new flavours in March, including Brothers Bitter-sweet Apple Cider 50cl single bottle and stubby pack and Brothers Tutti Frutti Pear Cider in 50cl bottles.

South African cider Savanna introduced 4x33cl bottles aimed at larger grocers, specialists and convenience stores.

Head of marketing for Savanna in Europe Anthony Mills says: “This format supports both the impulse purchase and intended purchase of the brand. Two major retailers are in discussions to list this format.” The brand’s Chill Pack – 12 bottles in a pack with a special lining that converts the entire pack into a cooler box through the addition of

ice – will be stocked in Morrisons from the end of November.

Intercontinental Brands has launched a number of new products over the past year. In August, St Helier Apple and Pear variants were introduced in a PET format. In March, Cherry and Blackcurrant variants were added. St Helier Still Cider in a Box was introduced in November 2009.

Healey Cyder Farm’s main NPD in 2010 was Berry Rattler in 50cl bottles, with an abv of 4%. According to a spokeswoman it is “a blend of Cornish Rattler with red berries creating a summery, lower-alcohol drink”.

WKD Core celebrated its first anniversary this summer and has benefited from a £30 million spend so far, including high-profile television exposure through its sponsorship association with this summer’s 2010 World Matchplay darts tournament.

More than 170,000 money-off coupons will have been distributed among WKD Core’s target market by the end of October.

Westons Cider launched a low-alcohol version of Stowford Press, at 0.5% abv, in 50cl bottles and gave its Cider with Raspberry a new lightweight bottle and updated appearance with new-look labels.

The company will be launching two further 75cl ciders this month – English Vintage Cider and English Original Perry.