Hard Cider Branding Goes Manly

Smith & ForgeGone are the days where beer marketers challenged themselves by trying to market beer to women. Today, the tides have turned and marketers are endeavoring to brand once-girly hard cider drinks to men. Hard cider drinks have long been popular with the female demographic thanks to its sweeter tendencies, but the popularity of hard cider with the male demographic in the U.K. has inspired marketers to take a stab at it in the U.S.

The CEO of T.W. Pitchers’ Snake Bite claims that men like the taste of hard cider just as much as women, but they are afraid of looking soft while drinking it. However, millennial males are just the right demographic to transform the male view on hard cider. In fact, U.S. brewers are investing heavily in the apple trend.

The category of hard ciders has grown considerably in the last five years. In 2009, U.S. consumers spent a measly $109 million on hard cider, compared to $448 million spent in 2013. That is a 300% increase, compared to the average beer’s 6% steady yearly growth in sales. Market analysts believe there is still room to grow, and it has a lot to do with millenials’ appreciation for novelty and their willingness to experiment.

From big name brands like MillerCoors’ Smith & Forge to smaller time T.W. Pitchers, it seems man-friendly hard cider companies are sprouting like weeds. Let’s take a look at what these brands are doing to appeal to manly-men.

Smith & Forge presents strong male-centric branding, including the bottle packaging, samples at live events, and social media. The packaging screams, “This is for men,” featuring bold black and orange imagery representing an old-fashioned blacksmith. The brand’s social media presence is laugh-out-loud funny with “guy-humor” and even their live events feature fun arm-wrestling machines for free samples. The brand claims that 80% of their customers are male, so they must be doing something right.

Snake BiteT.W. Pitchers’ Snake Bite has packaging designed to stand out on the shelf in order to appeal to men. They ditched the typical paper wrapper in favor of the logo being painted directly on the glass. This design is intended to give the product a more expensive look while also being more tactile and appearing more aggressive. All elements that are attractive to male consumers.

Only time will tell if the popularity of hard cider amongst men is a short-lived fad or a trend to stay. If the taste of hard cider does truly resonate with the male audience, then a tasty product will ensure return customers. The key is to draw men in to a once-girly drink, get them to like the product, and encourage repurchase. If the girly barriers can be truly and wholly be knocked down from around hard cider, then it is a safe assumption that hard cider popularity will keep growing within the male demographic. So, if you are a male reading this, do your part to break down barriers and try yourself a manly hard cider.

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