Bulmers hopes to ‘revitalise’ the apple cider category with new campaign focused on ‘Britishness’

Bulmers is hoping its new campaign can help turn around sales of apple cider, which have been declining since 2013 amid new competition in the market.

Bulmers says it has a duty to “revitalise” the apple cider category as a market leader and wants to be a “lighthouse brand” for the drink as it launches a new campaign today (29 June).

Heineken‘s cider director, Emma Sherwood-Smith, says: “We absolutely see it as our role as a market leader and to be the lighthouse brand for bottled apple cider.”

Bottled apple cider sales have been declining in recent years, but Bulmers is launching a new TV campaign, it’s first since 2014, to push a new recipe for its original apple cider drink. Partnering with Channel 4, the campaign was developed through 4Sales’ creative arm PL4Y in collaboration with The Outfit and focuses on the diversity if Britain.

READ MORE: Heineken goes direct to customers with Deliveroo tie-up

The 60-second spot features drag queens competing in a tug o’war and bhangra-dancing curry chefs at a summer fayre. There are also three 30-second ads, with the campaign supported through social media activity.

The positioning came about after Bulmers’ agency Edelman researched what it means to be British and came up with the insight that variety is what makes culture.

“If you look at British culture the things we enjoy doing the most are drinking Dutch beer, eating Indian curry or Turkish kebab and its actually the inclusiveness of Britishness that’s so great,” Sherwood-Smith explains,

“The category has always about refreshing taste and Britishness, but now those apple cider traits are being offered by other categories such as gin and craft beer.”

Apple cider saw strong growth in the decade to 2013, with Bulmers among brands that led its repositioning as a drink that could be served in a glass over ice. However, that growth came to an end in 2013, and since then sales by volume have been declining, according to Mintel, and are expected to continue to decline.

It faces new competition from drinks such as gin and tonic and Aperol Spritz that consumers now drink in sunny weather. Plus other ciders made from different fruits are becoming more popular.

“We have lost some of that core market who have moved on to other things and the younger generation haven’t necessarily grown up with apple cider and are looking to more flavours so it’s about bringing them in,” she says.

As craft is on the rise Sherwood Smith says that it’s more crucial than ever that Bulmers remains front and centre. She explains: “We have  more shoppers than any other apple cider brand in the UK but you have to have fresh insights to drive relevance so it’s top of mind for consumers otherwise you are at risk of being forgotten.”

With cider sales so dependent on good weather  Sherwood-Smith promises new products coming soon to broaden Bulmers’ appeal in the winter months.

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