The Cider market has shown huge growth, driven by premiumisation and the introduction of fruit flavoured ciders. A corresponding boom in innovation has seen experimentation in everything from low calorie and frozen ciders to the emergence of cider cocktails and the revival of canned packaging. However the progression of the Cider market is now starting to work against it. Having become so many different things to different people and markets, Cider is suffering from an identity crisis – expansive, yet desperate and confused. The Cider market needs to take a second bite of the apple – strategically addressing the challenges it is facing and embracing new opportunities to provide clarity of offer and a more defined positioning.

Firstly, the language of Cider varies by territory and is not universally known in the same way as the language of spirits or beer. ‘Hard’ Cider’ means alcoholic cider in the US as the difference between cider and apple juice is not as well established as in other parts of the world. Added to this, we are seeing a marked discrepancy in pricing for the same brands across different markets. Popular Scandinavian brand, Rekorderlig, is super premium in the UK but cheaper and more mass  in its home territory, adding to the confusion about just what people are getting for their money.

The demand for flavour innovation, particularly in the UK, has seen such bizarre additions such as Cloudberry and a huge push on mash-ups with ‘speers’ and ‘spiders’: Orwells Amaretto Cider and Magners new Irish Whiskey variant to name but two. But how far can flavour innovation go? Should the Cider category now seize the opportunity to move in a new direction – a move back to apple based ciders with flavour interest and innovation coming from the different taste profiles of the type of apples used. Fourth generation Cider farmers, Thatchers, has just introduced 2 new variants: Thatchers Red – the first time a red apple has been used – and Thatcher’s Somerset Haze, with new flavour profiles designed to target a new generation of younger drinkers.

Cider’s unique composition means that it doesn’t necessarily need to dilute its offer by trying to do too much. Instead, it needs to find clear and pertinent ways to strategically reassert leadership and status by creating a definitive, special and expert positioning – with a focus on the marketing and design communication.

And this ties into the new craft phenomenon that has not just revolutionised the beer market but is a platform not yet fully explored and promoted by the Cider brands. The future of craft needs to come from a return to the true craft, expertise, knowledge and core values that lie at the heart of our brands – and presents a perfect opportunity for Cider brands to reimagine and release the richness of their offer and then reinterpret it for a new and discerning audience.

This is starting to be addressed by a new and selective wave of Cider brands with original and refreshing designs. We don’t traditionally think of California as a cider producer but Brooks Cider references the history of California when, in 1846, North California was a military controlled state. Brooks uses the iconography of the military Bear Flag to reference heritage but also attract a contemporary audience with a bold and fun design.

The overarching opportunity is for Cider brands – or one smart brand – to create new brand and visual languages to reassert its unique and leadership positioning; developing a newly competitive and exciting Cider offer and marketplace.