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HEINEKEN SHAKES UP THE CIDER CATEGORY WITH LOWER CALORIE, SLEEK CAN STRONGBOW® ULTRA DARK FRUIT LAUNCH

25 February 2022

  • Rolling out across the grocery and convenience channels from 1st March
  • Biggest ever Strongbow® launch with £12M in marketing spend
  • Strongbow® ULTRA Dark Fruit will be unmissable with TV advertising, disruptive social media and a 500,000 mini can sampling campaign

HEINEKEN UK is set to refresh the nation with the launch of Strongbow® ULTRA Dark Fruit, a 4% ABV fruity cider at 95 kcals per slimline can from the UK’s favourite cider brand Strongbow®, available in grocery and convenience stores from 1st March.

“Consumers, especially generation Y and Z[i], want to see alcoholic drinks that fit with their desire to lead more balanced lifestyles. However, the category falls behind other FMCG segments such as desserts and snacking with limited lower calorie options, leaving a big gap in the market,” HEINEKEN UK Cider Brand Director Rachel Holms said. “ULTRA is a refreshing, thirst-quenching cider sold in 330ml sleek cans at 30% fewer calories ml for ml compared with Strongbow® Dark Fruit and taps into the lucrative on-the-go and impulse occasions, providing a big sales opportunity for stockists UK-wide.”

A refreshingly light cider with natural berry flavourings, the familiar Dark Fruit colour and a mouth-watering flavour, Strongbow® ULTRA Dark Fruit is targeted at 18–40-year-old men and women and ranks in the top 10% of all alcohol concepts tested among its target audience[ii].

ULTRA plays into strong market desire for lighter, lower calorie drinks, providing a huge opportunity for retailers to grow cider penetration from its current 45.4% level and flavoured cider from 30.9%[iii]. Strongbow® Dark Fruit’s launch in 2013 shook up the cider category by feeding consumer demand for innovation and is now the number two cider on the market, paving the way for ULTRA’s success.

Holms continued: “With 59% of consumers looking for lighter choices when shopping[iv] and 60% of Brits saying taste is the most important factor[v] when buying a drink, there is a clear gap in the market for a lower calorie, flavourful cider, which ULTRA fills.”

Strongbow® ULTRA Dark Fruit is a market pioneer, opening a new segment within the cider category with its bold low-calorie credentials highlighted on pack. Extensive product testing confirmed 70% of people who tried ULTRA would ‘probably or definitely buy[vi]’. ULTRA also appeals to a broader range of drinking occasions from low-to high-tempo, ranking highest for a quiet night in, followed by something to drink before going out.

Rolling out to grocery and convenience stores across the UK from 1st March as single 330ml cans and packs of 4 and 10, Strongbow® ULTRA Dark Fruit will be backed by a powerful £12M marketing campaign covering digital, television ads and impactful point-of-sale to drive sales in stores, as well as a 500,000 mini sampling can campaign.


[i] 18-to-34-year-olds

[ii] Kantar Concept Validation April 2021

[iii] Kantar WPO MAT to 26/12/2021, Total Market (off-trade)

[iv] Accenture COVID-19 Consumer Research, March 19-25 and April 2-6 2020

[v] KAM MEDIA Low+No 2021: The customer perspective report. January 2021

[vi] Kantar Concept Validation April 2021