Cider Corner: Pitching Brands to Retail, What Do They Want?

​The pandemic has given many cideries a nudge in the direction of more chain store-driven decisions. Competing with fellow craft beverage companies, especially beer​ and wine, means adapting to what retailers see as the best sales options.

Bottles are down, cans are up and even types of cans — and what kind of liquid is in those cans — while tracking those sales can be vital to making off-premise sales.

​”​Due to ​COVID we’ve shifted heavily to canning our ciders for retail sales​,” explained Original 13 Ciderworks‘s Petra Manchina, who noted that direct consumer feedback along with what was being indicated from wholesale distributors helped lead the charge​.​ “We now offer a greater variety of our cider flavors in cans. So far we’ve added in three flavors (in cans) and are looking to add three more.​”​

Bryant’s Cider has begun to focus on updating the sizing and price point.

“Pint cans with label improvements to better compete with beer brands has helped,” said owner and Cidermaster Jerry Thornton when asked how the portfolio is changing. “We made the changes after market analysis of beer brands, 12 ounces have faded for craft and moved to four-pack pints.”

A unique strategy for Bad Granny Cider isn’t to ditch the six-pack holders, but switch up the cans going into it. A literal shakeup for the Washington brand is offering consumers a variety sixer with three different brands represented, the Bad Granny “Motherload.”

“There are many 12-packs in the category, so we decided to offer the consumer something a little different,” said Bad Granny‘s Vicki Daigneault, saying it showcases two cans each of Honey Crisp, Black Currant, and Ginger Lime.

“It’s been a great performer for us and it showed the buyers that we are willing to be innovative and flexible with our brand,” Daigneault said. “As a small local producer, it’s really hard to keep up with national brands so you have to really consider where you put your efforts and sales dollars.”

The styles and being able to offer new brands helps drive sales as well. For Original 13 in Philadelphia, semi-dry and semi-sweet are big sellers.

READ MORE: Best Ways to Educate Consumers on Your Styles

“Our blueberry and strawberry flavors are the best sellers (semi-dry and semi-sweet respectively),” Manchina said.

Bad Granny has seen the drive towards a “Healthy for You” lifestyle in the central Washington area and Daigneault said chain buyers are building the flavored malt beverage (FMB) segment in the cold box to satisfy that consumer.

At Bad Granny she said they’re answering that call with a new Tropical Lite Passion Fruit, Orange, Guava Cider.

“It is made from local Honey Crisp apples and water as the base then we add all-natural Passion Fruit, Orange, and Guava,” Daigneault said. “It’s only 99 calories, 4% ABV, and four grams of sugar.

“It’s delicious, and we think the consumer will love the “lite Cider” option. That’s our answer to the call from both the chain buyers and the consumer.”

Photo courtesy Bad Granny Hard Cider

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