Somersby opens its own farmers market

Looking to keep up growth in the category, Carlsberg's cider brand leans on local roots to create trial for new product innovations.

Somersby Farmers- Market-A New Way for An Old-Age Tradition - Co

Somersby is hosting its own farmers’ market to amplify its local connections and drive trial for new flavours in the absence of public events.

Over the next six Saturdays, starting this weekend, the Somersby Farmers’ Market will offer click-and-collect, contactless pay-what-you-can shopping for fresh, local produce from Toronto-based delivery service Veggies Delivered, along with a complimentary pack of cider.

All proceeds from the market, held in Toronto’s Liberty Village neighbourhood, will be donated to crisis meal program The Stop Community Food Centre.

John Porter, Carlsberg Canada’s managing director, says farmers’ markets are synonymous with community building and the brand has “supported local” in all facets of its brand. In the past that has included using local ingredients and 100% Canadian apples, but has been amplified since last December, when Copenhagen-based Carlsberg announced a partnership with Kitchener-based Waterloo Brewing to become the exclusive Canadian producer of Somersby.

“We now find ourselves more in the Canadian landscape and this is great opportunity to team up with farmers’ markets to tell our story by also showing support for them,” according to Alistair Kidd, marketing director at Carlsberg Canada.

Moving cider production from overseas to Kitchener-Waterloo was a nine month project, Kidd says, and its insights show that being able to say that the product is made locally with Canadian ingredients is something people are willing to support, especially now with the outpouring of support of local bars, shops and restaurants during the pandemic.

Kidd adds that desire to support local extends to farmers and organizations that provide food for those in need, like Stop. The partnership with Stop was brought to the brand through its agency Vibrant Marketing, which had worked with Stop in the past and has an office in Liberty Village, near the market location.

According Euromonitor, after years of rapid expansion, the cider category is starting to lose a bit of its novelty after experiencing growth patterns comparable to when craft beer began to take off. In order to continue to grow the category, Kidd says innovation is key, as sweetness variations and unique flavour combinations have typically driven growth. This summer, the brand is introducing spritz and mango and lime profiles, two on-trend flavours that will be sampled in produce boxes at the farmers market.

Kidd says the brand has historically done a lot of sampling, particularly around summer music festivals and pop up street events, but since large gatherings have all been cancelled, the farmers market is a new ways to engage consumers.

Though there is overlap between the craft beer and cider category in terms of consumer base and placement in retail, Somersby is going after a slightly younger demo, 25 to 34, and indexing higher with women.

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According to Kidd, Somersby has 30% of the cider market in Ontario and 14% nationally. In Canada, Kidd says, cider is particularly important to Carlsberg, as Somersby is its second-biggest brand in the country – behind Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc – and its largest brand in Ontario. Globally, Canada is Sombersby’s fifth-largest market.

On the sales side, Carlsberg has been working with delivery services Runner and The Beer Guys on a province-wide basis for its full portfolio. According to Kidd, Somersby has also seen a lot of growth in grocery channels over the last couple of years since alcohol sales were allowed in Ontario. When things return to normal at grocery, there will be promotional displays and a cross-category promotional opportunity with Corby.

“We are finding ways to bring the brand to life given the current restrictions we and everyone else has to work with,” Kidd says.

The farmers’ market initiative is being promoted through Somersby’s Facebook and Instagram channels, as well as targeted, paid social across the Greater Toronto Area.