This paper reports the results of market place and consumer research for hard apple cider. The objectives of the research were to determine potential demand for and constraints to the supply of hard apple cider in Michigan. The research was undertaken using on-site and focus group interviews of managers of microbrews, brew-pubs, restaurants and retailers. The research revealed much enthusiasm over HC market potential among purveyors interviewed, particularly among microbrewers, brew-pubs, and specialty retailers. Respondents estimated the potential value of Michigan hard cider market to be relatively small but significant-from 1-5% of purveyors' alcohol sales, and as high as 20% in some cases. Potential hard cider consumers are diverse and include 1) traditional microbrew connoisseurs, 2) young, adventurous drinkers who are driving the "malternative" trend, and 3) the "significant others" and other companions of microbrew connoisseurs who seek an alternative to the heavier beers served in microbrews. While microbrew connoisseurs are likely to gravitate toward a more traditional, drier cider, "malternative" drinkers and the "significant others" are likely to prefer a sweeter product. Compared to other respondents, microbrews showed particular enthusiasm for producing and marketing hard cider. While microbrews and brewpubs would market the product on tap, restaurants and retailers will more likely market a bottled product. The primary impediment to consumer acceptance of the product is a lack of familiarity, and numerous promotional efforts that could overcome these constraints were suggested. Demand for hard cider is likely to be somewhat seasonal, however there are numerous hard cider themes and products that might serve to mitigate this seasonality. While strong enthusiasm for the marketability of a Michigan-brewed product was expressed by respondents, an organic or "all-natural" product was not felt to have potential due to both demand and supply constraints. The primary constraints to supply of hard cider in general are the cost and availability of ingredients, as well as regulatory and taxation issues.


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