Since cider manufacturers tapped into the phenomenon of serving the drink over ice, this traditional alcoholic beverage has benefited from renewed support. While this method of serving did much to boost cider's standing as a summer tipple and take on cold lager, the job of ensuring it remains a year-round option has proved harder.
Last Christmas, however, several brands addressed this with seasonal advertising. Magners rolled out a national outdoor campaign in major cities entitled 'Christmas Sparkle'.
In London, this included six-sheet posters incorporating twinkling lights in support of the launch of its Light and draught variants.
Similarly, Brothers Drinks promo-ted its range using the line 'You can't choose your family but you can choose your brothers' across 96-sheet poster sites. It focused on its Festival Edition Pear and Strawberry and Pear ciders. This brand, which gained recognition on the festival circuit, grew its sales by almost 300% in the on-trade in 2008.
Moreover, cider certainly seems to be becoming more robust as, despite its focus on over-ice serving, sales over the past two summers, which brought poor weather, have held up well.
The cider and perry market was estimated to be worth more than £1.8bn in 2008, a rise of more than 60% since 2003, according to Mintel.
Cider and perry are still a relatively small market compared with other alcoholic drinks but, unlike some of the other sectors such as lager and beer, it is growing.
Off-trade sales, which make up about 32% of the market, have experienced strong growth although the on-trade continues to dominate.
Cider has traditionally suffered from a downmarket image, with economy brands often favoured by street drinkers. However, premium brands have brought new drinkers to the sector. Brewers have begun to ditch the heavy promotions that made low-cost cider so popular with those looking for a cheap alcohol fix.
As with the wider food and drink markets, consumers are seeking out products that can demonstrate their provenance, especially in premium products. Cider is well placed to tap into this trend, particularly the independent cider makers. The drink's British heritage also means it scores points with those watching their food miles.
Of course, the nation's drinking habits have come under scrutiny recently as the warnings grow about the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. While many struggle to stick to the recomm-ended maximum units per week, so far the data does not show significant changes in British drinking levels, although research suggests that nearly 25% of adults are looking to reduce their intake.
Innovation has been strong in the flavoured cider and perry markets, which have grown significantly as a result. While smaller brands such as Brothers have often led the way in this area, Bulmers also entered the category in 2007. Meanwhile, independent manufacturers are positioning themselves in the premium market, which comprises more than 100 brands.
C&C Group, an Irish company, owns the Magners brand, which was introduced across Great Britain in 2006 and is widely credited with reviving the market with its over-ice serving concept. It is now the second-best selling cider after Scottish & Newcastle's Strongbow.
Despite the decline of budget white ciders, Frosty Jack's remains in the top five brands, showing that demand for lower-end products remains.
Lambrini, a fizzy perry, dominates its market and benefits from a loyal customer base.
Looking forward, Mintel predicts growth will not match that of the previous five years. Value sales are estimated to reach more than £2bn by 2013, which appears to be a 6% rise on 2008, but when inflation is taken into account represents a drop of 7%.