A couple of weeks ago, @SommBeer wrote Time for a Gender Bender – a post where he declared that “women generally drink differently than men”. He was talking about drink preferences and essentially, we women like the sweet drinks – including beer. Well if you know me at all, you might have guessed that I did not agree with his opinion (even though his blog tagline is I encourage you to accept my opinion as fact I still formed my own opinion). I wrote my own piece on Girl Beers, and went back to the history of women brewers, tossed in some science stuff and discussed marketing. We had a good, healthy banter about our posts and decided to collaborate on the following piece.
What do you think about the current marketing of beer?
Sommbeer: The marketing for craft beer is almost non-existent. Even the local brew pubs seem inept in this regard. As for the big brewers, I think they are a mess too. I have to turn the channel if my kids are in the room.
HopsCanary: The macro players continue to market to men with sexy women in the ads, rugged outdoor scenes and talking about “beers with your buddies”. The other aspect of their marketing is very gimmicky – such as cans that turn blue when cold. There isn’t much craft beer marketing but I have seen some product placement in TV shows and movies. Just get Wil Wheaton in the cast and he’ll make sure there isn’t any macro crap on the set.
Sommbeer: Having worked in the world of consumer packaging I can tell you marketing is the art of manipulation. The macro brewers pull on shallow primal triggers ie. sex. They also alter packaging to pull in women. The best example of this is the Bud Platinum bottle, bright blue and designed to pull in women. Craft beer doesn’t have the financial muscle and has matured to the point requiring ads. I also want to believe they don’t need it.
HopsCanary: Marketing for any business or commodity had the goal of targeting to a specific audience. It’s pretty easy to see who the beer companies are marketing to but what they still fail to understand is that women like beer (and not the bright blue Bud Platinum bottle). Since women comprise 50% of the population, wouldn’t it make sense to have gender neutral marketing? Don’t market a beer specific to women, as you’ll likely get this wrong and put forth a fruity, light – look, it’s like a cooler! beer. Respect that women enjoy beer and form the proper advertising campaign around it. It’s probably time you stopped dumbing it down to the men too.
What are your thought on the packaging of beer?
Sommbeer: In regards to marketing via packaging, I’m repelled by some of the new stuff. New brewers sometimes have a misguided notion that they have to be “edgy”. They make vulgar labels to prove it. Some of them I wouldn’t let my kids see. It might have been hip when I was in college, now it just seems to be trying too hard. I don’t buy good beer with offensive packaging.
HopsCanary: As for packaging, craft brewers are the ones pushing the envelope with weird, fun and racy labels. I wonder if the guys at the brewery – and yes, it’s usually guys – run the labels past the women in their lives first to get their opinion. Most labels are fine but some depict sexy women on the bottles. It doesn’t offend me but I do wonder why they choose to do this. When was the last time you saw a buff guy on a label? Yeah, never. I admit that I’m drawn to any an eye-catching label, especially if I’m not familiar with the beer, but boobs on the bottle won’t likely get my attention.
How would you market beer to women?
HopsCanary: I wouldn’t. I don’t see a need to advertise differently to men and women. If you remove the stereotype sexy marketing and stick to talking about your beer, why do you need to advertise differently to each gender? Tell me what your beer smells and tastes like and keep the bikinis to swimsuit ads. Sommbeer: Hmmmmm, well now ya got me thinking. In Detroit we market cars to women and lots of trucks to men. The formula works. Target marketing, in this case based on gender, isn’t bad in fact it makes sense. My point of agreement is that it shouldn’t be vulgar. Bikini ads are stupid – agreed.
Sommbeer: To me good beer marketing isn’t obvious at all. Good craft breweries have to maintain the proper image for example. Have to act like they don’t need advertising. If they do, it smells like desperation and looks like more garbage from Coors, Miller etc… Look at the ads for Sam Adams! What a sellout, their beer quality went out the window with each ad dollar spent. The analogy to good beer marketing – stand at the bar like you’re not interested in anybody. Makes you look super attractive and it will attract “customers” like bees to honey.
HopsCanary: Most craft breweries don’t have the money to market outside of their local area and in Vancouver, this is primarily done through events they attend. Their signage at the event and the people pouring their beer become their marketing and face of the company. When this is done to appeal to both genders, they win. I don’t think that the macro beer market will gain many female beer drinkers but craft has an amazing opportunity to pull in this demographic. Focus on what the beer tastes like, that it’s made locally and let new craft beer drinkers (male and female) sample them. And for certain, don’t make them feel like a noob because they don’t understand the fermentation process…
So there you have it – SommBeer’s opinion and mine on marketing beer. I truly hope the craft brewers don’t take on the “sex sells” attitude or I think they’ll find that the female beer drinkers may be put off. They have a huge opportunity to gain market share, which the macros just can’t compete in, so do it right. Market your beer, not the woman of your dreams.