Orchard Thieves


For decades, being a cider drinker in Ireland meant being a Bulmers* drinker. Up until May 2015, it’s fair to say that cider tasted like Bulmers in this country, and consumers had little or no choice.

This is the story of how the newly created Orchard Thieves Cider launched into the marketplace, won the hearts and minds of cider drinkers nationally, and took a big bite out of Bulmers’ apple in its first year.

The Irish cider market was worth €366 million at the start of 2015. Bulmers was the biggest player in the category with approx. 80% market share (and this rose to 96% in the on trade). This presented an interesting but challenging opportunity for Heineken Ireland; to attempt to re-excite a monopolised cider category and break the Bulmers habit.

Orchard Thieves Cider launched in May following an accelerated nine months pre-launch development programme. It was decided early on in the process that this wasn’t going to be a me-too brand, and if we were going to be successful and expand the category, we needed to do it on our own terms.

A bold approach was employed across all elements of the launch. From the strategy to the planning and execution of this new-to-market brand, this was a brand that was designed to be noticed and – more importantly – adopted by our audience.

The results of our ambitious approach didn’t disappoint, with 85% awareness and over 57% trial as measured by TNS. Market share rose to 6.5% by end of December 2015, and as of the end of February, Orchard Thieves Cider has thieved 7.1% share of cider, rising to 14% in supermarkets.

*Bulmers in Ireland is also known as Magners in the UK and has been considered a premium cider since 1997.