Well, Bowl Me Over: Marketing Beer. . . to Women??

Beer Marketed to Women

By Marti Barletta, CEO and Founder of the Trendsight Group

The Super Bowl is right around the corner, and I look forward to the event at least as much for the annual party and the advertising as for the game. And if there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s that there will be a lot of beer advertising on the schedule.

Year after year, I continue to be astonished at the mounds of money the conventional beer industry leaves on the table by overlooking the opportunities to market to women. This is not a tough call, team: Marketing beer to women – marketing it well to women, I should say – would boost sales, would require no new product development or launch, and would shake up the category with some innovative and interesting creative work.

1. Boost Sales

A Woman Drinking Beer

The beer market is missing a substantial opportunity by never, ever marketing to women. According to Beverage Dynamics, women comprise 32% of Domestic Regular beer drinkers, 36% of Imported Regular beer drinkers and 42% of Light beer drinkers. Now, I grant you that women probably account for proportionately less volume consumed; but I guarantee you that they account for proportionately more volume purchased, as, wishful thinking notwithstanding, women still handle over 80% of all grocery buying duties.

As for the low consumption number, I could argue it’s a self-fulfilling formula driven by the beer industry’s practice of advertising that virtually slams the door in female faces. (“No girls in our clubhouse!”) In my three decades “trendsighting” marketing campaigns, only once have I seen an ad I would consider resonant with women – and I saw that spot only once. (I seem to remember it was Coors or Coors Light, but sadly, I have no record or recollection of what it was, or of the specifics that caught my attention.)

2. No New Product Launch RequiredMarketing Pink Beer to Women

The “girly beers” that I have seen – like the pink beers in Britain (REALLY?!) – have been marketing “FAILS” that should never have reached the shelf. Some segment(s) of women may or may not prefer a different taste profile in beer than men, but to date, these pathetic attempts to “reach out” to women have been insulting.

3. Innovative and Interesting Creative

Off the top of my head, I can think of at least three approaches that breweries should explore in marketing beer to women. Any of these strategies is likely to have more appeal to women than anything I’m seeing on the football playoff broadcasts now. (Oh – and by the way: 38% of pro football’s TV viewers each week are female – as are fully 45% of Super Bowl viewers.)

  • Refreshing – Something like the Lipton Brisk approach: an icy-cold, fresh-tasting and (unlike wine or mixed drinks) “gulpable” alcohol drink. (Remember “this ain’t no sippin’ tea!”) This would make a great campaign for warm seasons or warm climates.
  • Humor – Funny situations based on women’s humor dynamic (“that’s me” moments) not on sophomoric male humor (practical jokes and horse farts).
  • Sociability – Since nobody likes to drink alone and everybody likes a good beer, social occasions are absolutely the most natural setting for beer advertising. I’m thinking of “Here’s to good friends… Let it be Lowenbrau” or the “weekends were made for Michelob” and “Tonight, make it Michelob” spots. If you click over to watch these ads, cut them a break. Some of them look incredibly dated and corny to us today, but hey- it’s not their fault I had to go back 35 years to find beer ads built around being social!

None of these approaches would exclude men, by the way. What they would do is include women, unlike the current overtly testosterone-driven beer campaigns that dominate the market.

Actually, the ONE beer campaign I can think of that probably appeals equally to men and women will likely be on air in a few days… but only for the blink of an eye.Clydesdale in Beer Marketing

Anheuser Busch traditionally creates 1-2 beautiful new Clydesdale spots for the Super Bowl every year. I love these ads – the little donkey that desperately wants to make the team; the young colt that gets a helping nudge from the big guys when he tries pulling the wagon on his own; Hank, the horse who doesn’t make the team, but trains all year, coached by the Dalmation, to the sound of the anthem from Rocky

Every year, the Clydesdale spot is ranked one of the Super Bowl favorites… Every year, it does a beautiful job re-connecting millions of viewers – men and women – to a brand that comes across as a class act that Americans can care about. And then less than a week later, it’s gone. What a waste!

And what a mystery, to me, at least. I understand that young men are the core consumers. But seriously: In a category where a single share point means multi-millions of dollars, how is it that not one marketer thinks it’s a worthwhile idea to include women in their marketing message?

Notice I didn’t say “Create, launch and promote a new beer marketed exclusively to women.” I’m suggesting simply some sign that says “Women welcome – Why don’t y’all come in and have a cold one with us?” The day beer marketers open up their advertising, they’ll find women will open their wallets. And the resulting sales will bowl you over.

I second Marti’s thoughts.  If you’re a brewery, you would strike gold this time of year IF you decided that pursing the 50.9% of the population that is women was worth it. And worth it – it is.