Stivy’s says: why stop at vodka?

Kola Fruits and Cherry Berry are the debut varieties for Stivy’s Original Cider.

RETRO flavours similar to those that inspired Stivy’s vodka liqueurs have a new incarnation – in cider. VC2 Brands, the company behind Stivy’s, Boë gin and the newly rebranded Black Wolf Brewery, has created Stivy’s Original Cider in Cherry Berry and Kola Fruits flavours.

The cider was, says VC2 director Graham Coull, a logical next product for the company. “We saw that flavoured cider was in 30% growth. We thought that the flavoured cider consumer was not too different from the Stivy’s consumer – they are party people, they like to buy nice things, they are prepared to pay a little bit more.”
He also identified female drinkers who already drink Stivy’s as a rich source of cross-over customers. The vodka liqueur has evolved over the years away from being a laddish choice for shots to a more versatile, gender-neutral spirit, he said.
The company’s own research showed that more and more women were drinking Stivy’s with mixers, pairing it with lemonade, Red Bull or using it in a fishbowl. In effect they were making a long drink anyway. So why not give them the option of buying the flavours they liked in a single serve long drink – such as cider?
Such thinking fitted well with the VC2 business model, which is to find an existing category and, instead of creating a copycat product, add a new twist. That worked well with the Stivy’s vodka liqueurs and Coull had a feeling that it would translate into cider.
“The crumbs the big boys don’t want can still be a multi-million pound business,” he said.
“We didn’t want to produce any old cider, we wanted a clear point of difference. We were not going to do conventional flavours. There are four companies out there doing Strawberry & Lime. If we had done that, we would be fighting for the same customers. We wanted to to make sure there was nothing out there like ours.”
The new cider’s target market is the same as Stivy’s vodka liqueur’s – people aged 18-25, or who think they are.
“We have done our research,” Coull explained. “There are people in their thirties and forties out there, a growing-older generation of people who are outgoing, fun-loving, they want to have a good time without overdoing it. They think they are back in their twenties.”
Stivy’s retro flavours chime with that age group, he said: “It’s all about taking you back.”
Stivy’s Original Cider’s first listing, in Asda, has been encouraging according to Coull – on sale at the full list price of £2.35, up against Kopparberg on promotion.
“We are exceptionally pleased with the sales,” he said. “We have been touched by the strength of support for the Stivy’s brand. It’s stronger than we knew ourselves. “The on- and off-trade, the convenience sector and specialist stores are all buying it. It’s selling itself.”