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Thoughts on cider - a reinvigorated image for cider in the UK

09 April 2014


The perception of cider has moved from a low cost, high ABV alcoholic beverage to a fun and vibrant drink with a trendier image than that of beer.  

According to a new Canadean Consumer survey, 29% of UK adults drink cider. Although the drink is not as popular as beer (44%), it shows that cider is becoming more popular as an alcoholic drink. Moreover, cider drinkers have one unanimous verdict of the cider market: 68% believe that cider has a more premium image in the UK compared to ten years earlier.



Cider is now perceived as fun and vibrant with a trendier image than that of beer.  


New cider brands with premium positioning

The reinvigoration of the cider category in the UK can in part be explained by the move away from low cost, high ABV (alcohol by volume) brands to more premium beverages. An example of this was the launch of the C&C brand Magners in 2005 which introduced the “over ice” concept.  With this launch Magners attracted a new breed of fans with a total of 14% of cider drinkers in the UK saying that they started to drink cider as a result of the introduction of Magners. This figure rose to 26% among those aged 25-34 years old. Magners remains the most sampled beverage in the cider category, with a total of 77% of cider drinkers saying they have tried it – followed closely by Bulmers (72%) and Strongbow (70%). 

According to Michael Hughes, Lead Analyst at Canadean, the appeal and contemporary image of the cider market is a result of the different positioning of brands in the market – with each one looking to create stand out appeal in both off-trade and on-trade. This is the case for brands such as Orchard Pig, the craft cider brand that has looked to buck the “over-ice” trend and instead focus on pairing the beverage with food. Brothers and Kopparberg have created an affiliation with the music scene; Hogan’s has focused on locality and traceability of ingredients; while Thatcher’s has a firm focus on heritage and authenticity.

Cider – cooler than beer

This niche positioning has enabled the cider category to create a cooler, contemporary and stylish image over the beer category. Despite the rise of the trendy “craft” and “speciality” beers, 44% of cider drinkers say that cider is more fun and trendy than beer. Given the relatively stagnating sales of beer in the UK, this shows that cider is one area of cross-category inspiration and opportunity for beer manufacturers.

While some social taboos may still exist in some beer and spirit categories, the survey imply that cider is free of such stereotypical consumer images. A total of 77% of cider drinkers believe that the diverse array of flavours makes it popular for both men and women. Only 36% of cider drinkers believe that the category is more associated with younger people. “As society continues to age in the UK, cider manufacturers can take reassurance that the formulation and positioning of cider is not misaligning with the need states of more senior drinkers”, comments Hughes.

Refreshing and sweet

Other popular reasons for drinking cider in the UK are that it is refreshing (81%), has a sweet taste (37%) and a diverse range of flavours (26%). The popularity of the beverage with its novel flavours, the sweet, less intense taste, means that cider can serve as an inspiration for the flavoured alcoholic beverage category when it comes to positioning; a category with similar attributes aiming to create appeal among younger consumers.

According to Michael Hughes, cider will continue to adopt an increased upmarket positioning. “The popularity of cider will grow as a result of more discerning drinkers wanting beverages that reflect their personality and identity, as well as offering fun, excitement and indulgence. As more people are attracted to the market, it will increasingly be used as a source of inspiration for other alcoholic beverage categories.”


Magners remains the most sampled beverage in the cider category, with a total of 77% of cider drinkers saying they have tried it. The brand has helped to position cider towards a premium image as only 12% of cider drinkers now feel that the brand has a negative image in this country.


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Editor’s notes

All market insights from this press release come from Michael Hughes, Lead Analyst at Canadean Consumer.

All numbers used in this text are based on a recent Canadean Consumer  survey of answers from 2,000 UK-based adults. The survey was conducted in February 2014. 

For further information

Please contact the Canadean press office at +44 (0) 2032 200 818 or email


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