2023 Hard Cider Trends for Emerging Brands


2023 Hard Cider Trends for Emerging Brands

As an emerging or growth hard cider brand, you have a lot to contend with in 2023. From continuing inflationary pressures to shifting consumer behaviors, there are many 2023 hard cider trends impacting your brand.

Unfortunately, with so much going on, it’s hard to know where to focus your efforts. If you’re going to make it a year for growth, you need to start somewhere. Luckily, there are a few ways to maximize the opportunities for your hard cider brand.

Keep reading to see the most impactful trends affecting emerging cider brands and how you can continue to grow in a tumultuous year.

In 2022, $530+ Million was spent on hard cider. Unfortunately, that’s -6.0% over the past two years. And, the state of the BevAl market at the start of 2023 is rocky to say the least with so many factors affecting demand. So, how can you make 2023 a better year?

It all starts with understanding the 2023 cider trends that are impacting your brand.

With that in mind, here are 5 trends affecting the demand for cider brands in 2023:

1. Consumer Focus on Sustainability

A major trend affecting every industry going into 2023 is the continued consumer desire for sustainable practices. But, even more than just desiring to live more sustainable lives, consumers are expecting brands to take on the issue as well. 46% of consumers want brands to offer sustainable products at a comparable price and make labeling easier to understand. But, with this responsibility also comes the opportunity for growth. 47% of consumers are very likely to choose a particular brand if it has health benefits for them as well as the planet. This means you have the opportunity to position your brand to align with these benefits.

Additionally, Gen Z is beginning to make up a growing portion of legal-aged alcohol drinkers. NIQ data confirms that the top 3 concerns for Gen Z are animal welfare, climate change, and air pollution. Brands that are accused of greenwashing, don’t have sustainable practices, or fail to connect with these consumers are missing out on a growing market. Sustainable practices will continue to impact cider sales (and all industries) well beyond 2023, so you have the opportunity to get it right early.

Traditionally, cider brands have benefited from health-conscious consumers avoiding other types of alcohol. Even with sales dipping, there is still an upside for cider brands with the health-conscious. Products that advertise wellness attributes—a trend we’re seeing across alcohol categories—are making gains. For example, cider brands with the product claim of “carb free” are up +353% in dollar sales in the past year.

To get the most out of this trend, you need to focus on your stated and qualified product attributes. That is, your product labels and online listings should include the terms being sought out by your target consumers. If your cider is “carb free”, but you aren’t touting it, then it won’t have an impact. By properly connecting your cider’s product attributes with the wellness terms consumers are seeking, you can get consumer attention and make sales in 2023.

3. Local Market Traction

One of the biggest ways hard cider drinkers are shifting their behaviors is by sticking with a local brew. In fact, regional/local brands capture 54% of total hard cider sales. But, they still aren’t growing enough to offset national brand declines. These brands may be able to perform better by focusing more on those areas where success is proven. Even if they are smaller areas of distribution. Understanding where the opportunities lie and keeping it focused are key. For example, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, hard cider is becoming very popular due to the state’s changing liquor laws. In fact, two dedicated cider bars opened up in 2022, with two more coming in 2023.

There is also the possibility that there are untapped areas of growth locally, that simply aren’t receiving the distribution they need. For example, let’s say your cider is being distributed nationally, and you’ve identified a distribution or assortment gap in the Seattle area. A correction could drive an additional $100K in annual sales. Extrapolating that opportunity across 10 other local identified precision areas could amount to $1 million in revenue. Taking a closer look at your distribution can pay dividends.

4. Inflation Pressures

No industry is unaffected by inflation, and alcoholic beverages are no exception. Inflation is changing consumer outlook and leading them to become unsettled and avoid spending on products they don’t deem necessary. When it comes to cider, many consumers, unfortunately, put it in that bucket. While the U.S. seems to be moving away from an impending recession, consumers are still wary and growth is slow for many brands.

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to grow your cider brand even during economic troubles. One area you can focus on is your product assortment. When the dollars in the pool are few, too many product offerings can be harmful. Using data to make the most out of your assortment can lead to strong gains even during a recession. For example, an assortment optimization program can deliver up to 20% in incremental sales and profit by reducing item cannibalization. Revitalizing your assortment strategy can help you keep margins strong and keep your hard cider brand going strong.

5. Unique Flavor Profiles

Some consumers still think of hard cider as only being available in a few flavors. But, they clearly haven’t been paying attention. Not only is there a wealth of flavor options on the market, but some are also seeing much better growth than others. The top five flavor profiles in terms of YoY growth are: Cucumber, blueberry, passion fruit, tea peach, and strawberry lemonade. In fact, cucumber hard cider sales are up +3,960%!

So, what does this mean for your brand? If your brand offers any hard cider options in these flavors, you can optimize their presence in your assortment. Highlight the flavors, update product listings, and connect with consumers. If you don’t have these flavors, the growth numbers may give you a roadmap for product innovations. You could add a long-term flavor profile to your assortment, target just a particular area, or do a limited-time offering. There are many ways to use product innovations to meet shifting consumer wants and grow your bottom line.

How You Can Grow Your Emerging Cider Brand

Even in times of economic turmoil and shifting consumer behaviors, there are paths for emerging brands to protect and grow shelf space. Hard cider brands are no different. By identifying the 2023 hard cider trends and how your brand fits in, you can see where there are opportunities and pitfalls.

The most important thing to do is to stay on top of shifting trends. This means you should be using both POS and panel data to understand your position in the market and what the overall category looks like. You also need to know how to act on the information. One of the best ways comes in the form of expert insights from industry experts. The NIQ BevAl Hub houses a slew of valuable reports and articles helping you do just that. Investing in the right tools and reacting based on accurate, timely data and insights can allow you to stay ahead of the competition and make the most out of turbulent times.

Emerging Cider Brands Can Keep Growing with Accurate Insights

Growing a hard cider brand requires understanding your customers, sales trends, growth opportunities, and future demand. Which is a lot to ask if you don’t have access to accurate data and valuable insights.

Byzzer™ powered by NielsenIQ provides emerging BevAl brands access to the essential data they need to successfully react to these shifting tides and build expansion strategies. Current retail measurement data shows how comparable products perform in various retail channels, helping you target the right retailers and distributors. We also track online and omnichannel sales. So, you can even understand the growth of selling alcohol online and get a full view of your brand and category.

Talk to our experts about new options custom-built for emerging and growing brands alike.

Don’t miss out on crafting a powerful online-driven expansion strategy!