Cider Corner — Expert Outlook: Adjustments That Can Help Propel into 2022

The rush to change a business plan in 2020 because of the pandemic gave cideries no chance to plan ahead, but 2021 eased some idea of how to plan for 2022 more gracefully and look toward positive changes that can be implemented for years to come.

Graft Cider has made changes like shifting more attention to the New York cidery’s online sales presence.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have had to adjust how we interact with our customers,” explained Graft’s Sae Kennedy.

Being that Graft does not have a taproom, events were always of high importance to the brand, Kennedy said.

“Since the pandemic shut down our only outlet to meet our core consumers face-to-face, we were forced to find another way to give the Graft Cider experience virtually,” she said.

So Graft created the Cider Explorers Club, a monthly cider club that ships limited release cider to the doorstep of subscribers.

“This club is highly customizable, gives first access to our limited cider, exclusive tasting videos with head cider maker Kyle Sherrer, and fun little freebies that change each month,” Kenedy said. “The Cider Explorers Club just hit its year anniversary and shows no sign of slowing down.”

Swilled Dog learned that planning ahead is crucial in order to effectively navigate the supply chain shortage.

“We have had to make minor adjustments to our basic business plans to accommodate but having capital in order to adjust purchasing habits was important,” said Experience Coordinator, Lauren Patterson. “Between expanding distribution and focusing on increasing traffic in our tasting room we look forward to a very successful year.”

The West Virginia company is currently planning workshops and events in the tasting room to help attract more customers to Upper Tract.

“Tours of our facility will also happen in 2022 to help educate our consumers on cider making,” she added while saying a rebranding effort in 2021 is helping launch a new can, starting with a Sangria spring seasonal.

2 Fools Cider just switched from shrink-wrapped labels to stickers, which Doug Will said gives the Naperville, Illinois cidery a multitude of ciders to test out in the market.

“Our first go at it was Strawberry Lemonade, which went extremely well in the summer,” he told Brewer.

Boosting customer awareness on this aspect has been an amalgam of social media, tastings, and events.

“Our distributors also do a fantastic job with product awareness,” Will said, who pointed out that they have really focused on the people who truly care about cider.

“It could be in the taproom, at bars or restaurants,” he said. “We want to dedicate our time to the people that believe in our product! We are actively reaching out to our community in Illinois day by day.”

Taprooms can play a more important role again after shutdowns forced many changes and Number 12 Cider hopes to continue building on things that worked well in 2021.

“In our taproom, the addition of new products, weekly live music, and activity leagues has helped keep a crowd for us,” Stephen Hance said.

For distribution, the Minneapolis cidery added new packaging equipment and Hance said they were excited to see, hopefully, a higher margin in addition to growth in existing territories.

“Having to accommodate online ordering in 2020-21 will turn into a necessity in 2022,” he added. “We expect continued take-out ordering and hope that an order-from-your table system for our food offerings helps increase sales there.”

Photo courtesy Graft Cider

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