CarlsbergSomersby

The cider variant will be available in Tesco from next week before being rolled out to other supermarkets. An on-trade release for Somersby is scheduled for the beginning of 2013.

Carlsberg will support the brand’s debut with in-store sampling and point-of-sale promotions over the summer and is prepping a multimillion marketing push for early next year.

It will be marketed using the strapline ‘Real Refreshment’ and is being positioned as a mainstream cider for men and women.

Nick Howells, head of innovation at Carlsberg, says the business opted to stay away from the premium cider market and focus on the mainstream segment to set itself apart from rival brands.

He adds: There’s been a lot activity in premium cider and we felt there was an opportunity to revitalise the mainstream [category ] and provide another credible option within that space. I think as a business one of Carlsberg strengths is in its mainstream brands. That’s where we are strong.

Darran Britton, marketing and strategy director for the brewer, says the move demonstrates the company’s “ability to target a new category” as well as its “understanding of consumer behaviour in the drinks market”

He adds: “In recent years the cider category has attracted a significant number of new drinkers. Our research has shown that a lot of these consumers find the taste of the current established mainstream ciders in the UK both artificial and astringent. In response to this we have developed a cider, specifically for the UK market, which has a more balanced taste and contains no artificial sweeteners and no artificial flavours.

“Extensive product research with cider drinkers shows that the Somersby product is significantly preferred to the market leader.”

The Somersby brand was first launched in Denmark and Norway in 2008 and is now available in more than 22 countries across Northern and Western Europe as well as parts of Asia.

Carlsberg’s foray into the cider market comes at a time when rival brewers such as AB Inbev and Heineken are also looking to tap into the category’s growth in a bid to offset declining beer sales.

UK cider sales jumped from £1.7bn to £2.4bn between 2006 and 2011, according to Mintel, the only major alcohol category to have grown its user base over the past five years.