Beer should not be gender exclusive

Molson Coors’ decision to pull Animée from shelves should see the end of female-friendly beer brands with brewers instead focusing on changing perceptions of beer amongst women.

LadyBeerPic
Women could be the solution to boosting beer sales but only if brewers adopt a more gender neutral tone in their marketing actvity.

Animée was launched last July in three variants – a standard, clear-filtered beer as well as rose and citrus flavours. Backed by a £2m advertising campaign, it was positioned as a brand to “make beer a real choice” for women. The brand was the product of the company’s “BitterSweet” unit, which was set up almost four years ago to exploit what the brewer claims is a £396m untapped market of women beer drinkers.

Molson Coors is not alone in trying to attract new drinkers to the category, Guinness Red and Carlsberg Eve have all failed to really drive women to drink lager. Brewers are increasingly looking for ways to broaden the appeal of their heritage brands to both women and younger drinkers in a bid to maintain revenue in a declining UK beer category.

Observers have noted that while females drinkers are an important target group in the current climate, it is unlikely that any women will be impressed by a campaign that “gets girls to drink beer.”

Simon Davies, director at consultancy Sidelight and former marketing director at Molson Coors UK, says that when marketers tackle the problem in this way, then any solution – “no matter the marketing spend behind it” – is bound to fail.

SAB Miller’s premium Italian beer Peroni has managed to attract a strong female following in the UK since it relaunched in 2005 because it does not have overt male positioning. Branding activity has never presented itself as a “beer for the lads” according to Davies, it is instead positioned as cool and quintessentially Italian.

It is an approach that is indicative of the world beer sector, with many campaigns featuring a mixed sex group of friends, who are very stylised and fashionable; focusing on creating an aspirational feel around the brand.

Rachel Perryman, an analyst at alcohol research firm CGA Strategy, says that the marketing strategies for beers needs to focus more on attracting women through premiumisation, not feminisation.

The UK market is starting to see an influx of extensions such as Carling Zest and Carlsberg Copenhagen, which are already forcing people to view two established beer brands in a new more inclusive and premium light.

Brands choosing this method over launching entirely new products could cut the risk associated with entering the market. Indeed, Molson Coors claimed that following a full review of Animee it found that brand extensions Coors Light and Carling Zest were attracting a higher proportion of women drinkers.

Davies points to the need to use the heritage of established brands to build a female following, adding “I’m not surprised the numbers were substantially bigger for Carling Zest than they were for standalone brand like Animee because its got the power of the Carling brand behind it.”

The commercial attraction of the female market is still an attractive one for brewers, despite the number of failed attempts to date. Creating brands that consumers will not be judged by their peers for drinking will be key to driving sustainable growth.

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