Diageo to focus marketing on women

Cannes 2012: Diageo, which owns Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Guinness, is to ramp up marketing that targets women in a bid to drive growth after admitting that previously it has focused too much on men.

Johnnie Walker

Matt Barwell, consumer marketing director for Diageo Western Europe, told Marketing Week at Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, that focusing on women turns previous insight “on its head”.

He said: “We haven’t been as good at marketing our brands to women as we need to be. Historically we’ve had the same belief that says if you target men then the women will follow but having been married for 15 years I know from experience that that’s not the case!

“Historically we’ve been overly focused on men and haven’t fully understood how to grow our brands with women.”

Diageo is putting more emphasis on the power of design and aesthetics as part of marketing alcohol brands to women because women are a “better judge of aesthetics, and are much more articulate and discerning” Barwell says.

It is increasingly working with all-female creative teams at ad agency partner BBH to influence the direction of brand communications targeting females.

Barwell cites the automotive industry as an example of another sector that has turned to design to appeal to women and commonly tasks women with designing car interiors as a way of getting a balance of style and utility. Victoria Beckham recently designed a special edition car for Range Rover.

While Diageo is increasing the appeal of its brands to women, the design-led strategy is also improving the quality of Diageo’s marketing to men, according to Barwell.

The company says that it is also making progress in its bid to improve its brands’ appeal to women in Africa, where it recently launched a product called Snap targeted directly at females.

Diageo is also looking to target the growing middle class in emerging markets, and the growing segment of older consumers to drive growth in Europe.

Andy Fennell, Diageo’s global CMO, is due to speak at Cannes on Friday (22 June) about the role of brands as media owners and content providers.

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