Irish drinks and snacks group C&C is reportedly to launch Magners cider in the UK.

UK drinkers are soon to be introduced to Magners premium cider, or Bulmers as it is known in Ireland. Parent company C&C hopes to capitalize on the relatively untapped premium cider market, but it may yet face an uphill task to surmount the negative image surrounding cider drinking in the UK.

C&C, a snacks and drinks company based in the Republic of Ireland, plans to launch its Magners brand in the UK next year. Magners is presented as a 'premium alcoholic drink made with apples': in other words, it is high quality cider.

In Ireland, where the brand is called Bulmers, the drink has revitalized cider's image over the past decade. Part of the drink's appeal is to the way in which it is presented. The cider is sold in bars in a bottle and the consumer is given an accompanying glass full of ice. Drinkers pour the drink themselves, a facet that helps to differentiate it from other ciders: it is drunk from a glass, but is not a draught cider. Whether this somewhat unusual way of serving Bulmers is at the root of its success is doubtful. It is probably mostly due to the fact that is simply a widely available high-quality product that does not have the negative connotation of cheaper brands.

Following a trial introduction to the Scottish and Northern Irish markets, Maurice Pratt, C&C's chief executive, believes that the time is right to extend distribution to the whole of the UK.

Magners, however, must first overcome the negative image that it conjures up for many British consumers. It suffers from prejudices labeling it as a coarse drink favored by unsophisticated drinkers, in particular as a stepping stone on the way to the more bitter tasting alcoholic drinks, such as lager, or more expensive ones such as wine. This view also means that, in many consumers' minds, it is simply not a stylish drink. Such misconceptions could prove to be stumbling blocks for Magners, yet there is certainly an untapped niche in the market if it can get its marketing strategy right.