In an average four-week period, the figures has significantly plummeted by 1 million since 2009.
“Like similar downturns in fruit juice and soft drink consumption in recent years, the latest Roy Morgan data shows there has also been a gradual move away from cordial. With stories about how much sugar Australians consume frequently in the news, a growing awareness of cordial’s high sugar content may be one reason for this downturn,” said Norman Morris, industry communications director, Roy Morgan Research.
Though there are few selected brands that are bucking this trend. In 2009, almost 35% of Australians aged 14+ (34.9%, or 6.2 million people) consumed cordial at least once in an average four weeks. Fast forward to 2016 and that figure now sits at 26%, or 5.2 million people drinking cordial per four weeks.
“Amid such a challenging market, Bickfords’ escalating popularity makes for a fascinating case study. Since 2009, when it lagged behind Cottee’s by nearly 1.8 million consumers per four weeks, Bickford’s is fast closing the gap on the long-time category leader,” said Morris.
Such a significant decline in consumption has obviously impacted on the popularity of certain brands. Cottee’s cordial, while still the leading brand, is the highest-profile casualty: whereas it was consumed by 2.4 million Australians in an average four weeks back in 2009, it has since dropped to 1.8 million, a spillage of 600,000 consumers per month. Golden Circle has slipped from 1.2 million to 1 million drinkers, while Schweppes cordial lost 150,000 drinkers (420,000 down from 570,000).
But the most dramatic shift since 2016 has been the stratospheric rise of Bickford’s Cordial, which has gone from 622,000 consumers in any given four weeks to just over 1.4 million, a growth of 125%. While we have reported on Bickfords’ upward trajectory before, revealing the growing proportion of Australians buying it, it is clear that consumption has sky-rocketed to an even greater degree.
“Bickfords’ dizzying rise can’t be attributed to it being a new brand with novelty value – it was founded more than 140 years ago! But it seems to have struck a chord with older cordial drinkers lately, with advertising that appeals to adult sensibilities (such as its whimsical “Makes the ordinary extraordinary” campaign), not to mention its appeal as an excellent mixer. In fact, nearly 50% of people who consume Bickford’s cordial are aged 50 or over, compared with 30% of Cottee’s drinkers,” elaborated Morris.
Coles and Woolworths home-brand cordials have also gained more consumers since 2009.
Not surprisingly, Bickfords’ Australian stronghold is the brand’s home state of South Australia, where it is consumed by more than four in every 10 cordial drinkers (40.4%) – putting it ahead of Cottee’s (35.2%). It’s also big in WA (31.7%) and Victoria (29.8%); however, Cottee’s retains its lead in both of those states, consumed by 41.8% of Western Australians and 32.3% of Victorians in an average four weeks.
Queenslanders are similarly loyal to their home-grown brand, Golden Circle: 26.9% of the Sunshine State’s cordial drinkers opt for Golden Circle in an average four weeks, compared with 21.2% who choose Bickford’s. While Cottee’s is the most popular brand in Queensland, consumed by 28.6% of the state’s cordial drinkers, this consumption rate is well below average.
In contrast, Cottee’s remains comfortably ahead of the pack in NSW, where 37.7% of cordial drinkers consume it at least once in an average four weeks, ahead of 26.8% who drink Bickford’s.
Meanwhile, Tasmanian cordial drinkers lead the country for consumption of Woolworths home brand (21% per four weeks, more than double the national average), Schweppes (19%, also more than double the national average), and Coles home brand (15.2%). The Apple Isle is less enamoured with Bickford’s (19.4%) and Cottee’s (25.6%) than the mainland.
“Furthermore, the 50+ demographic currently comprises 38% of total Australian cordial drinkers (up from 30.5% in 2009), whereas the younger age brackets now account for a smaller proportion. By targeting mature drinkers in a beverage category usually associated with younger consumers, Bickford’s have shown a strong understanding of this changing market,” discussed Morris.
He suggested cordial brands may survive the challenging times if they “reassess their consumer base, identifying existing and potential consumers most likely to be receptive to their product, and tailoring their communications strategy to appeal directly to these people.”