Marketing techniques open up the world of hard cider.
By Genevieve Iverson
Photo courtesy of MillerCoors/Smith & Forge
MillerCoors released its Smith & Forge hard cider March 3, a new cider that is marketed specifically toward national male demographics—already seen on banners at baseball games and outside sports venues. Smith & Forge is not the only one of its kind, but hard ciders “for men” are still a smaller market than the rest of the apple options on the shelf.
The cider market is becoming increasingly popular, and echoes gain in the national craft beer market, according to the 2013 USA Cider Market Insights Report. The report also summarizes that craft beer consumers are usually also cider consumers, so increased sales are beneficial to both markets. But it seems that male-specific ciders are still lacking compared to other brands. That said, what makes a cider for men varies in opinion.
Those that are specifically marketed to men—Smith & Forge and Redd’s Apple Ale (an ale cider hybrid) are two good examples—generally feature a drier taste and few, if any, additional flavors. Smith & Forge and Redd’s Apple Ale both feature national commercials that lean to the masculine audience and consumer. They include male actors, portraying actions like chopping rocks with tools or getting physically hit in the head by an apple.
Some localized producers around the country are looking to provide a similar alternative to the super sweet ciders too, on a smaller scale.
Seattle Cider Co., a Seattle-based cider brewery, offers dry and semi-sweet hard ciders that appeal to the same taste buds that big brands are marketing to.
“Of our male consumers, we typically attract male beer drinkers searching for a lighter drink, a drier taste,” says Joel Vandenbrink, founder of Seattle Cider. “It is more crisp, refreshing and lighter (than other spirits), but holds the same kind of alcohol content and can be cheaper.”
And small craft cider makers are not just in Seattle. A few examples around the country include Foggy Ridge Cider, Colorado Cider Company, Downeast Cider House and the list counts more than 100—as craft cideries can be found scattered across North American. Many of these ciderhouses are founded and run by men.
Hard ciders—made from apples and not wheat or barley—are a great option for those with a gluten intolerance or gluten-free diet looking to drink something stiffer than water, but not straight spirit. It can also appeal to male drinkers who want a casual sip similar to the cool refreshment of a beer. Vandenbrink of Seattle Cider got into cider because he leads a gluten-reduced lifestyle and wanted to make something he could drink.
“There was a time when more hard cider was consumed in America than beer. Now hard cider is exploding again, but the sweetness of many current ciders can be a turn off to beer drinkers, and some of them are looking instead to spirits and crafts for variety,” says David Kroll, MillerCoors vice president of insights and innovation, in a press release.
If marketing techniques aren’t enough to sway some male drinkers to cider, a quick Google search unearths many guides and reviews for what men could look for. Try Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness and Esquire for a few takes on cider for men.
And, as Leslie Pariseau says in her Esquire article, “there’s nothing girly about bubbles.”