Sweet revolution: Women ditch hard drinks for the cider


More and more women are lifting glasses filled not with the usual whiskey or vodka, but with the radiant tones of cider. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Women are ditching hard liquors for cider, sparking a sweet revolution. Whether in cozy bars or sunny orchards, women are lifting glasses filled not with the usual whiskey or vodka, but with the radiant tones of cider.

The quest for something lighter, yet equally rich in flavour has turned cider, which has for years been overlooked, considered merely a substitute for beer, into a hot seller.

Diana Githinji, the owner of Baba Blackship Wines and Spirits shop, has noticed a striking trend among her female clientele over the past five years.

Diana says almost 90 percent of her customers are women, and their preference for cider has led to a rapid turnover in stock.

“Whenever I restock, I buy three boxes, but they don’t last two days. There has definitely been a big shift, which reflects a broader cultural change towards healthier drinking habits and lighter alcoholic alternatives,” she says.

With its fruity flavours and lower alcohol content compared to traditional spirits, Diana notes that cider appeals to women seeking a refreshing and more moderate drinking experience.

However, the most compelling aspect of women's love affair with cider, she adds, is what it represents: a departure from the masculine norms that have long dominated the world of alcohol.

“In a society where drinking has often been associated with manliness and boldness, cider offers a welcome alternative—a drink that's as inclusive as it is delicious. And women just love their femininity and they are switching to their softer self,” she says.

Apple cider

Apple Cider. Ciders have fruity flavours and lower alcohol content compared to traditional spirits.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Perfect drink

Rosah Lyn is one such drinker who now says in ciders, she has found her perfect drink. It's been years since she made the switch at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I prefer a subtler approach, a drink that I can taste without feeling overpowered. Unlike hard liquor, which can leave a harsh burn, a cider provides a milder, more enjoyable sip every time. It's the choice for those of us who prioritise pleasure over intensity, ” says Rosah.

Morine Wanjiru's fondness for ciders has also blossomed in the last few years. She says it was the subtle sweetness and refreshing flavour that won her over.

“I use to be a whiskey girlie, however my friend introduced me to ciders and I think it tingled my taste buds, when I compare it to the harshness of hard liquor, there's no contest,” she says.

But the trend is driven by more than the need to find a drink that is not harsh.

Richard Nzube, a consultant and trainer at Movenpick says the trend reflects a growing consciousness about health and wellness among consumers. He notes a shift away from stronger alcoholic beverages among women due to increasing awareness of associated risks.

Health conscious

“People are becoming more conscious in terms of their health. They are trying to move toward lighter, more flavourful options that are friendlier to their bodies,” he explains.

Furthermore, Richard notes that there is a diversification in the market with the emergence of various flavoured spirits, a departure from the previously predominant original spirits.

Strategies such as reducing alcohol content and offering premixed batches to cater to changing consumer preferences, he says, have egged on the shift.

“There is a noticeable trend in the market toward introducing a variety of flavours in alcoholic beverages. Previously, original spirits were the norm, but now there is a proliferation of flavoured options,” he says.

Consumption uptick

At Movenpick, the ciders consumption increases from midweek onwards, with a particular uptick from Wednesday through Saturday, coinciding with the start of social activities for many individuals.

And it's not just about the drink itself. Marketing campaigns, such as cider festivals that celebrate the diversity of flavours to tasting rooms that offer a glimpse into the artistry behind each batch, have shaped cider into more than just a beverage—it's a culture unto itself.

Faith Nyambura, Marketing and Innovations Manager at the East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) says the brewer's recent launch of its flavoured cider under the brand Manyatta was informed by the evolving consumer preference.

Kick and flavour

“The young female consumer doesn't like the taste of original beers, she doesn't like the taste of spirits, but she wants to enjoy her alcohol,” says Ms Nyambura.

She further notes that their Manyatta ciders have a seven percent alcohol content, providing both kick and flavour.

“Some customers have expressed a desire for alternatives due to a common misconception that ciders have low alcohol content considering that most boost four percent alcohol content. This is precisely why we've introduced Manyatta Cider,” she says.

Data from a global data repository shows that the beer and cider market in Kenya was valued Sh357.62 billion in 2022.

Projections indicate that the market is poised to witness a compound annual growth rate exceeding four percent from 2023 to 2028.

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