Step Aside IPAs, a New Fad is on its Way

The alcoholic beverage scene is not what it used to be.

“When I was a kid, we had Bud, Miller Lite, that’s about it,” said the CEO of Vermont Hard Cider, Dan Rowell. Those days are long gone now in 2015. I’m not talking about the craft beer boom, I’m talking about a new contender in the alcoholic beverage scene, hard cider. With the release of Boston Beer Company’s wildly popular Angry Orchard Cider in 2012, the industry saw enormous growth. In the US, sales for the hard cider industry saw an increase of 22.5% in 2011, 65% in 2012, and around a 100% increase in 2013, leaving it at just over a 1% market share by the end of 2014.
While this may not sound like a lot, for the alcoholic beverage industry this is a substantial portion, with hard cider raking in a sizeable $366 million through 2014. Market share isn’t the only thing that has grown for hard cider companies, though, social media has also ramped up its conversation surrounding hard cider and opinions about it.
In conjunction with its market explosion, cider mentions on social media have also skyrocketed, growing over 575% since 2010. Using Crimson’s social media listening platform, we discovered that there have been over 860,000 relevant posts relating to hard cider, an amazing amount looking at the market as a whole.
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What’s creating this excitement in the hard cider market? Identifying and quantifying the factors behind an industry’s growth is a key advantage of using social media data and analytics. Using an in-depth analysis of the social media conversation relating to cider, we can see that a huge portion of the reason people talk about cider is simply because it tastes good.
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Many customers take to social media to describe their experience with different brands as they try them, discussing the taste and how much they enjoyed drinking their cider. This information can be critical for marketers in analyzing the core competencies of their brand in the eyes of their consumers, and also in identifying areas their competitors perform better in.

Taste can’t be the only driving factor behind such a large market growth, right? Another possible driving factor behind the growth of the cider market is its appeal to niche markets. Specifically, how it’s resonating with consumers who are looking for gluten-free options, and on a larger scale, its appeal to women.
Although finding gluten-free products has become much easier in recent years, finding alcoholic beverages that are gluten-free is still not easy. While in actuality, only about 1% of people suffer from Celiac Disease, the illness that causes an allergic reaction to gluten, a recent study shows that about 7% of people avoid gluten because of an “intolerance” and 8% of people avoid it in an effort to follow a “generally healthy lifestyle”. Anyone pursuing a gluten-free lifestyle has a tough time finding any type of alcoholic beverage that is gluten-free, and that’s where cider comes in. Being naturally gluten free, it is the drink of choice for many of these specific customers, and they have no problem showing their approval on social media, with 8% of the conversation mentioning “cider” and “gluten” as shown above. Finding a suitable drink for someone with Celiac Disease can be a tough task, and those that do find cider definitely show their love for it.

Another smaller segment of demographic users to focus on are female consumers. Males heavily dominate a direct counterpart to cider, the beer and craft beer industry. Conversation mentioning beer on social media is composed of 63% male customers, with females taking a small 37% of the conversation.
beer Gender breakdown from 2014-08-01 to 2015-08-19
When it comes to cider, we see a stark difference. Whether its because of the sweeter taste or the gluten-free attribute, women are much more active in the conversation about cider, and tend to talk about drinking it more often compared to men.
Men:
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Women:
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cider Gender breakdown from 2010-01-01 to 2015-07-01
Need even more of a reason to believe that cider is taking off in the US? Just take a look at the UK and Ireland. Cider has been a staple of those markets for much longer, has been much more widely accepted, and even makes up a much larger portion of the beverage industry, with a market value of about 3 billion euros. Both the UK, Ireland, and even Australia actually have more posts per million than the US by far:
World Posts per Capita (per million) by Country from 2010-01-01 to 2015-07-01
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With these markets already so developed, and the market just starting to explode in the US, it’s only a matter of time until more international cider brewers start penetrating the market and expanding it further.
Whether or not you have jumped on the gluten-free train, enjoy the sweeter taste of cider, or are a cider veteran from abroad, the newly popular US cider market is here to stay. Cider sales and social media conversation have continued to grow, and don’t show any signs of stopping. Cider has the potential to grow a lot and penetrate multiple new markets, so don’t be surprised if you start hearing about the “cider fad” instead of the “craft beer fad” very soon.
For more information on the alcohol industry and recent trends, read our alcohol trends industry report here.



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