Get Serious About Cider

CiderNow that major beer marketers including MillerCoors, AB InBev and Boston Beer are involved in cider, the category that was once the little-known darling of craft beer aficionados is exploding. Total cider volume rose 78% in 2012 and is continuing on that pace in 2013, according the soon-to-be-released 2013 BeerTAB Report. Of course, at 9.6 million 2.25-gallon cases, it’s still a small category, but the momentum is undeniable.

What’s the opportunity with cider for restaurants? Here are some insights that may provide direction:

·  Women and men consume cider in restaurants and bars with similar frequency: 30% of men and 32% of women* purchase cider in restaurants and bars once a month or more often, according to the BeerTAB consumer insights. Cider is positioned similarly to craft beer as a flavorful, food-friendly beverage. So, the gender parity is interesting in light of the fact that men have a higher incidence than women of purchasing craft beer once a month or more often (58% vs. 43%).  

·  Advertising expenditures by cider marketers grew from $60,300 in 2011 to exceed $7.4 million in 2012, with most of the spending occurring in magazines. As a result, more patrons may be calling for cider, as increased marketing may drive greater awareness and demand.

·  Seasonal and specialty ciders, as well as new brand introductions, will likely keep customers interested in the category. Nearly 20 new ciders came to market in 2012, and five have been released as of July of this year, according to the New Product Tracker on the DRINK online database.

·  Cider is gaining menu mentions. The incidence of cider increased 20% on leading chain restaurant menus in the first six months of 2013 as compared with the same period in 2012, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor.

The major brands such as Woodchuck, Angry Orchard and Crispin, as well as newcomers Michelob Ultra Light Cider and Stella Artois Cidre, continue to ramp up their respective efforts to engage the consumer in 2013. Savvy restaurant operators will want to investigate if cider is a fit for their patrons and concepts, and how they can leverage this evolving category to drive their beverage programs. 

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