Merrydown increases focus on Scotland

Merrydown Cider

Award-winning cider brand Merrydown is upweighting its focus on the Scottish market following huge growth in convenience in both volume and value north of the border in the last 12 months – and did you know that Merrydown is actually made in Scotland?

There can’t be many long-established brands that can claim to have delivered sales increases of 61% in the last 12 months in Scotland, but multi-award-winning cider Merrydown is one of them.

According to Nielsen Scantrack data to May 2019, the brand has delivered remarkable growth of 50% by volume and 61% by value in the last year in the Scottish impulse channel.

That stellar growth has led brand owner SHS Drinks to upweight its focus on the Scottish market to ensure that Merrydown continues to maximise its potential up here.

A true heritage cider brand, Merrydown’s growth is all the more remarkable given that it has occurred against a backdrop of falling sales in the overall glass bottled cider category in impulse. Indeed, according to the same Nielsen stats, the category has fallen by 12% in volume and 9% in value in Scotland over the same period.

Chris Lewis, Head of Alcohol Brand Marketing at SHS Drinks, is understandably delighted with the brand’s performance in Scottish convenience stores. He comments: “While Merrydown has been performing strongly all across Britain, to be growing volume in Scotland at three times the brand’s overall growth rate of 17% [Nielsen Scantrack, May 2019] is quite something.”

The success follows the reintroduction last year of the Merrydown Dry variant to complement the Merrydown Original SKU.

“Merrydown Original, our lead variant, is the No.1 glass bottled apple cider SKU in impulse in Scotland,” says Lewis, citing the same data source. “In addition to leading the apple category, it is also the fastest-growing SKU of any flavour variant in the top 101 – so it’s not only leading the pack, it’s growing faster than the competition. Merrydown Original also has the highest value rate of sale of the top 25 glass bottled cider SKUs, demonstrating that it generates strong cash returns for stockists.”

As well as delivering outstanding sales growth in Scotland, the product also picked up a silver medal at the International Cider Challenge 2019 last month, something Lewis says is “testimony to our continued focus in producing a great-tasting cider”.

Scotland accounts for some 21% of the brand’s volume in impulse, meaning that the brand massively outperforms in this country. It may also surprise some retailers to learn that Merrydown is now produced in Scotland. Lewis again: “We are proud to state that Merrydown is now produced in Scotland. Merrydown Original and Merrydown Dry are made with the same perfect blend that has been delighting cider-lovers for decades. Retailers in Scotland can now stock Merrydown in the knowledge that they are supporting a locally produced cider.”

To build on the brand’s current strong momentum, SHS is backing its locally made product this summer with Scotland-specific sales-driving initiatives to support independent retailers. “In addition to outlet-level activity, consumer support for the brand continues to celebrate the ‘Merrydown Moment’ at the end of the day when cider-lovers want to sit down, relax, unwind and enjoy a glass of cider refreshment that hits the spot, and employs the strapline ‘Love your Merrydown time’,” explains Lewis.

He advises that retailers should stock up this summer to cash in. “Merrydown’s 750ml resealable sharing format gives the brand a point of difference over most other bottled ciders which are primarily sold in 500ml crown-cap bottles,” he concludes. “With both the pear cider and the flavoured cider segments in volume and value decline, bottled apple should be the focus area for impulse retailers looking to build summer sales. Apple is very much on the up: it’s growing its share of total bottled cider sales and it’s selling more and more units in stores where it is currently stocked.”