Friday, 21 December 2007

CULTURAL PERMISSION AND THE RISE OF CIDER

Until very recently cider was the drink of choice of under-age drinkers, but its now gone mainstream. It was seen as unsophisticated, but now its everywhere. The chart shows that mentions of cider on blogs has doubled each year since 2005, and this is also reflected in sales, which have gone through the roof, and now attracting drinkers from all walks of life. But this wasn't a grassroots movement started by post-modernising fashionistas, it was carefully crafted by C&C, the Irish company behind the Magners name, and the main player in cider's renaissance.

Only a year and a half ago a colleague in my office mentioned the name Magners to me and I still hadn't heard about it. So what caused cider to tip? There are different explanations for what drove this change: some say it's the serving ritual - that involves chilling it over ice to reduce sweetness; or its ad campaign positioning it as a premium 'intellectual' product; or simply a cultural shift away from lager for health reasons. Whatever the reason the brand gave a product with a kind of social taboo on it a new acceptability. It gave people cultural permission to drink cider, meaning people could start drinking the drink society forced them to leave behind. Thus cider already had a dormant network of people who had been seeded with the idea, and Magners was the trigger that made it go viral.