Well, Bowl Me Over: Marketing Beer – To Women?


Super Bowl is just around the corner. I look forward to it as much for the annual party as for the advertising. One thing is certain: there will be lots of beer advertising.

Every year I am amazed at how little the traditional beer industry is able to make by not taking advantage of the many opportunities available to market to women. This isn’t a difficult call, team. Marketing beer to women – marketing it well to women, should I say – would increase sales, not require any new product launch or development, and would certainly shake up the category through some creative and innovative work.

Boost Sales

Women are missing a huge opportunity in the beer market. Beverage Dynamics reports that 32% of domestic regular beer drinkers are women, 36% of import regular beer drinkers, and 42%, respectively, of light beer drinkers. While I admit that women consume less beer than men, I am confident that they purchase more. Women still manage over 80% of grocery shopping duties.

The low consumption numbers could be argued to be a self-fulfilling prophecy driven by advertising that practically bans girls from the beer industry. (“No girls in our clubhouse!” Only once in my three decades of “trendsighting” marketing campaigns have I ever seen an ad that I considered to be resonant for women. That spot was the only one. (I think it was Coors Light or Coors, but I don’t have any records or recollection of exactly what it was or the details that caught my eye.

No need to launch a new product

I’ve seen “girly beers” that look a lot like pink beers in Britain. These “girly beers” are marketing failures that shouldn’t have made it to the shelves. While some women might prefer beer with a different taste profile than men, the pathetic attempts to reach out to them have been offensive.

Innovative and interesting creative

From my head, I can think off at least three ways that breweries could market beer to women. These strategies are more appealing to women than any I see on the football playoff broadcasts. (Oh, and by the way, 38% of pro-football’s TV viewers each Week are female – along with fully 45% Super Bowl viewers.

Refreshing – Something similar to the Lipton Brisk Approach: An icy-cold, fresh tasting and (unlike wine mixed drinks) “gulpable” alcohol drink. This isn’t a sippin’ cup of tea! This campaign would be great for warmer climates or seasons. Humor – This is a humorous campaign that uses women’s humor (“that’s you”) and not sophomoric masculine humor (practical jokes or horse farts). Sociability – Because nobody likes to drink alone, and everyone likes good beer, social events are the best setting for beer advertising. I am thinking of the “Here’s To Good Friends… Let It Be Lowenbrau” spots or the “weekends for Michelob” and “Tonight, make it Michelob” spots. These ads are worth a look. Although some of these ads look very dated and corny today, it’s not their fault. I had to go back for 35 years to find beer advertisements that were social. These approaches wouldn’t exclude men by any means. They would include women, which is a far cry from the testosterone-driven beer campaigns currently dominating the market.

The ONE beer campaign that I can think of that appeals equally to both men and women will girly mixed drinks probably be on the air in a few short days, but only for a brief time.

Anheuser Busch creates two new Clydesdale ads for the Super Bowl each year. These ads are my favorite. I love the little donkey who desperately wants to be on the team; Hank the horse that doesn’t make it but trains all year under the guidance of the Dalmation to the sounds of Rocky’s anthem; and Hank the horse that doesn’t make it to the team.

The Clydesdale commercial is a favorite at the Super Bowl… Each year it does an amazing job of re-connecting millions – men as well as women – with a brand that makes them feel like a class act and something Americans can relate to. It’s gone in less than a week. It was a complete waste.

It is a mystery to me at least. It is clear that the core customers are young men. Seriously, though: In a market where one share point can mean multi-millions of dollar, how is it possible that no marketer believes it’s worthwhile to include women in their marketing messages?

Notice that I didn’t say “Create and launch a new beer exclusively for women.” I suggest a sign that simply says “Women are welcome” – why don’t you all come in to have a cold one? Women will soon open their wallets when beer marketers start to open up their ads. The result will blow you away.

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