HEINEKEN Helps Licensees Reap Rich Fruit Of Strongbow Success With Draught Launch

13th February 2014

Strongbow Dark Fruit arrives in the on-trade following huge off-trade success.

HEINEKEN, the UK's leading Cider and Beer company, is set to add another string to its Strongbow with the launch of draught Strongbow Dark Fruit. Available from mid – March the newest variant from the UK's No.1 Cider brand has enjoyed unprecedented success since its arrival in the off-trade last summer, winning critical acclaim as the most successful FMCG launch of 2013.

Specifically created to appeal to Cider drinkers looking for classic flavour refreshment and to attract new and younger consumers into the category, Strongbow Dark Fruit delivers Strongbow's signature cut-through refreshment along with blackcurrant and blackberry juices.

The popularity of the Cider category is largely due to the rise in popularity of modern packaged ciders like the UK's No 1 brand Bulmers. With an explosion of new flavours and brands, 27% of value growth is currently coming from non-original variants, demonstrating the consumer need for experimentation . However draught cider remains the bedrock of the category, accounting for 63% of total on-trade volume sales. Tapping into the demand for mainstream flavour experiences, Strongbow Dark Fruit is now set to draw everyday drinkers into the flavoured cider segment, driving growth across the Cider category.

Harnessing the crisp refreshment of Strongbow cider, cut with blackcurrant and blackberry juices, Strongbow Dark Fruit offers a new taste experience without the overpowering sweetness often associated with flavoured cider brands.

Licensees will be able to draw attention to the launch of Strongbow Dark Fruit via a range of new, eye-catching POS; including posters, bar runners and drip mats. In-keeping with the off-trade packaging, the striking new materials will feature dark charcoal and purple colours, designed to reflect the new variant's premium cues and maximise visibility in outlet. The launch will be supported by a £multi-million ATL marketing investment, including heavyweight out-of-home advertising, to drive trial and brand awareness.

Andrew Turner, Category and Trade Marketing Director at HEINEKEN, comments: "Cider is the most dynamic category in the alcohol sector. Most of this growth is currently coming from the Modern segment and whilst consumers are enjoying the multitude of packaged flavour variants available, the category remains underdeveloped in the on-trade and offers significant room for growth. Accounting for over half of the category volume, draught cider is critical for licensees looking to recruit new drinkers and drive sales and everyday draught ciders offering a higher price premium per pint than Lager.

"As the UK’s best-selling Cider, Strongbow has the credentials to recruit drinkers to draught cider at scale and has a proven track record of driving category growth. With Strongbow Dark Fruit witnessing phenomenal sales in the off-trade, we believe there is huge opportunity to reinvigorate the classic Cider category. We trialled Strongbow Dark Fruit on draught in the last quarter of 2013 and it proved to be very successful, growing both draught and category cider sales over a 12 week period at a premium price . We are confident that the launch of Strongbow Dark Fruit will help licensees drive growth by tapping into the burgeoning consumer interest in flavoured cider. We strongly recommend speaking with your HEINEKEN sales contact to get Strongbow Dark Fruit installed in your pub to take advantage of this opportunity to boost Cider sales."

Accounting for six out of every ten pints of draught cider sold in the on-trade, Strongbow is the UK's No.1 Cider brand with value sales of over £800m . The brand is currently growing penetration at almost twice the market rate, whilst 50% of volume growth has been incremental to the Cider category in the past year .