Women’s approach to beer is changing

All FMCG companies see growth as harder to come by in this current market and climate. There’s quite a big focus on future growth opportunities and what will be driving company growth moving forward in the consumer segment. Within that, one of our big focus areas at SABMiller is to change or evolve the image of beer.

Bringing beer to new occasions

When you ask people about beer they tend to associate it with sporting occasions, which is great because it’s been the industry’s focus, but it’s about breaking out of that mould.

Now, SABMiller’s category strategy is about how can we build out beer from those classic male drinking occasions into more mixed gender and premium occasions, and into the occasions where at the moment, consumers’ needs are being better met by wine or by spirits.

In Europe, Eastern Europe particularly, 90% of women drink beer, but they only drink it on a few occasions. The big challenge is: how do you make it relevant on more occasions?

The food occasion is a big potential, where maybe wine and spirits are playing at the moment. Older consumers who are a bit more wealthy drink more with food, so that’s an opportunity for us to make beer more relevant.

Tapping into natural ingredients

One of the key things is getting back to the naturalness and authenticity around beer. Many of our products go back hundreds of years, and when we think about what appeals to millennial consumers, it’s about getting back to the originality.

There is also a lot more that we need to unpack in terms of natural ingredients, which beer is still very much made of, particularly when we think about health and wellness trends.

Brands should target women with balanced beers

It’s important to point out that women’s palates are more sophisticated and more complicated than men. It’s not that they don’t like bitter products, but what they like is something that’s more balanced and maybe has a sweeter taste.

When you think about other markets like the Netherlands, we’ve had success among women with more complex but balanced beers such as Grolsch Herfstbok. Around 50% of its consumers there are women, which may surprise those who think that women need something that’s a bit less bitter and a bit blander. In reality, they need something more balanced and are actually quite interested in complex flavours.

Some of our dark beers, like Ursus Black in Romania which is more like what we’d consider be a stout or black beer in the UK, appeal to women. Ursus Black has caramel and chocolate notes – it’s quite heavy, but it’s balanced and rich.

The point is that fruit flavoured or lower alcohol beers are not the only way to reach women. That’s one of the reasons why I get excited about our future growth opportunities.

There are so many different styles within beer and consumers are now seeking out variety, novelty and something that’s different and individual. I think beer can play right into that.


From a Marketing Week chat with Sue Clark, SABMiller’s European managing director.



There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Terry Collmann 10 Mar 2015

    “It’s important to point out that women’s palettes are more sophisticated and more complicated than men.” Does that make them better artists? And what about their palates?

  2. “It’s important to point out that women’s palates are more sophisticated and more complicated than men.”

    *citation needed

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