Years ago, beverage industry experts might have called the hard cider craze a passing fad. However, manufacturers have steadily increased production by millions of barrels annually since 2013. Signs show the popular drink hasn't even reached peak saturation, as startups and established brands alike have had success rolling out new cider varieties.
"The growth of cider…has been in the works for years, hitting an especially hot streak recently," writes Brian Tuttle of Time. "Big brewers such as Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and the Boston Beer Company (maker of Samuel Adams) have taken notice and joined in the trend, introducing cider brands of their own, complete with broad marketing campaigns for beverages that are sweeter and more gender-neutral than beer."
You might even call the reintroduction of hard cider to American drinking habits a comeback. During colonial times, hard ciders were a beverage of choice and immense availability. Today, it provides a fruity alternative to beer products and a less potent sip than wine and hard liquors. With more integrity than other beer alternatives like wine coolers, makers have worked hard to put the "craft" in craft cider. Consumers are taking notice.
"Per Chicago-based market research firm IRI, cider sales zoomed 75.4 percent to $366 million in that same 12-month period through the end of November 2014," writes Jonah Keri of The New York Times. "That does leave cider with just over 1 percent market share. Still, those in the industry speak breathlessly about cider's potential for further growth, particularly because cider's share was just 0.2 percent in 2011."
While these drinks have proven themselves to have sales legs year-round, fall and winter is the perfect time to market hard ciders. With a custom label strategy, manufacturers can get ahead of changes and demands in the marketplace with memorable, persuasive branding.