Available to the UK on-trade from mid-March, the new variant has enjoyed “unprecedented” success since its arrival in the off-trade last summer.
Cut through with blackcurrant and blackberry juices, it was created to appeal to cider drinkers looking for “classic flavour refreshment” and to attract new and younger consumers into the category.
With an explosion of new flavours and brands, 27% of value growth in the cider category is currently coming from non-original variants. However, draught cider still accounts for 63% of total on-trade volume sales.
The launch will be supported by a range of new point-of-sale materials including posters, bar runners and drip mats.
In line with the off-trade packaging, the new materials will feature dark charcoal and purple colours, designed to reflect the new variant’s premium cues and maximise visibility in outlet.
It will also be supported by a multi-million-pound advertising spend, including heavyweight out-of-home advertising, to drive trial and brand awareness.
In the on-trade, Strongbow Dark Fruit will join Original and Pear.
Andrew Turner, category and trade marketing director at Heineken, said: “Cider is the most dynamic category in the alcohol sector. Most of this growth is currently coming from the ‘modern’ segment and, whilst consumers are enjoying the multitude of packaged flavour variants available, the category remains underdeveloped in the on-trade and offers significant room for growth.
“Accounting for over half of the category volume, draught cider is critical for licensees looking to recruit new drinkers and drive sales and everyday draught ciders offering a higher price premium per pint than lager.
“As the UK’s best-selling cider, Strongbow has the credentials to recruit drinkers to draught cider at scale and has a proven track record of driving category growth.
“With Strongbow Dark Fruit witnessing phenomenal sales in the off-trade, we believe there is huge opportunity to reinvigorate the classic cider category.”
Strongbow Dark Fruit was trialled on draught in the last three months of 2013 and proved very successful, growing both draught and category cider sales over a 12-week period at a premium price.
“We are confident that the launch of Strongbow Dark Fruit will help licensees drive growth by tapping into the burgeoning consumer interest in flavoured cider,” Andrew added.
Accounting for half of the draught cider sold in the on-trade, Strongbow is the UK’s number-one cider brand with value sales of over £800million.
Click here to see the latest news stories from Barmagazine.co.uk