Written by John Kander and Fred Ebb, the sound track “New York, New York” was composed for the 1977 Martin Scorsese film, “New York, New York.” Although the song was originally performed by entertainer Liza Minnelli, it didn’t gain popularity until crooner Frank Sinatra, with his unique vocal abilities, sang: “I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps...And find I’m king of the hill, top of the heap.”

As the current market climate poses challenges for many beverage brands, NielsenIQ highlights in its article “2023 Hard Cider Trends for Emerging Brands” some ways in which these brands, specifically, can rise to the “top of the heap.” 

From shifting consumer behaviors to continual inflationary pressures, NielsenIQ highlights five trends for cider brands to better understand and to maximize opportunities, as follows:

  • Health and wellness trends: Products that advertise wellness attributes — a trend 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. By properly connecting the product’s attributes with the wellness terms consumers are seeking, brands can gain consumer attention and make sales in 2023.
  • Consumer focus on sustainability: With the desire to live more sustainable lives, consumers are expecting brands to take on the issue as well. This means an opportunity to align with these benefits. Additionally, Gen Z is beginning to make up a growing portion of legal-aged alcohol drinkers. Sustainable practices will continue to impact cider sales (and all industries) well beyond 2023, so there is opportunity to get it right early.
  • 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. Understanding where the opportunities lie and keeping it focused are key. Taking a closer look at distribution can pay dividends.
  • Inflation pressures: Inflation is changing consumer outlook and leading them to become unsettled and avoid spending on products they don’t deem necessary. One area to focus on is product assortment. Revitalizing an assortment strategy can help keep margins strong and keep hard cider brands going strong.
  • Unique flavor profiles: Not only is there a wealth of flavor options on the market, but some are also seeing much better growth than others. The Top 5 flavor profiles in terms of year-over-year (YoY) growth include cucumber, blueberry, passion fruit, tea peach, and strawberry lemonade. In fact, cucumber hard cider sales are up 3,960%. Brands can highlight the flavors, update product listings, and connect with consumers. 

When it comes to protecting a brand from economic turmoil, shifting consumer behaviors, and staying ahead of the competition, hard cider brands are no different.

“The most important thing to do is to stay on top of shifting trends,” the article states. “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.”