Flawed Assumptions

As a big reader, what’s on peoples’ bookshelves is usually of interest. During a recent trip, one of the books friends had on a shelf was the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, by Ries and Trout.

A piece in the intro hit home with me as it directly applies to Women Enjoying Beer’s goals:

“…programs themselves were based on assumptions that were flawed…”

The context is that there are lots of great people and good ideas. The crux of the issue is that if a process is based on incorrect assumptions, then failure in some way is inevitable.

Turn assumptions upside down

Said another way, if you do your front-end research, make sure the assumptions you’re basing decisions on are accurate and authentic, AND THEN you can prepare for success.

What are you doing to figure out how to reach 70% of the majority population (at 50.9%) – women?

Make extra sure that there are no assumptions. Women like beer and want to be engaged in the conversation, accurately and appropriately. And you can only get even that far if you toss out everything previously related to women and beer.

Assumptions and stereotypes are dangerous and usually exaggerated in some fashion, be it in a big way or small – it’s still exaggeration. And therefore inaccurate.

Start over, start fresh, and you’ll make real progress.

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Why Stories Like This Make Me Crazy

Read this. Then come back.

Okay – let me tell you why this drives me crazy (via all the hundreds of women who have shared and talked with WEB). And not good crazy either.

1. Beer does NOT need to be sexed up. Any more. At all. Anywhere. In fact it needs to get sex removed from it. Can we please get over sex in marketing!!??

2. Beer is brewed for genderless enjoyment – or it should be.

Women Enjoying Beer (Photo by Kate Parks)

3. Yes, women and men taste differently. How could they not? We’re all wired differently, we’re all physiologically unique. But beer should not be solely brewed to appeal to women. It should be brewed to appeal to all beer enthusiasts.

4. “Mistress” as a label for one of her beers is not helpful; it’s counter to women getting equal shrift. Who still does not get that words used in labels and titles need to be considered from the vantage point of someone else – not the one naming the widget or beer or whatever. It matters. And last time I checked, no self respecting woman wants to be subject to a mistress situation.

5. This is partially true: “There’s definitely a market for craft beers for women.” You have to start in the marketing level, not at the brew kettle. ALL beers are for women when they are marketed properly. There are literally thousands of beers ready and waiting – surely you can find a few that appeal to you no matter if you’re female, male, or any other gender classification.

6. “It has citrus layers, complexities and characteristics” Last time I checked with beer drinkers, ALL genders appreciated these things. Being orchestrated for only one gender is not the point.

So called gender-specific beer is missing the point; in fact it isn’t the point at all. Everyone wants to drink what they like – so all internal plumbing aside, keep trying beers new and different to you.

I guarantee you’ll find one – most likely more than that – that you’ll return to.

Geez….sadly this isn’t an isolated incident or uncommon way of thinking.

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Debunk Beer Myths

Debunk the things you think are myths to you. Let me give you a few examples of myths WEB is working on debunking.

1. Women Like Beer. This is the truth. This is the truth for women who are independent thinkers, have friends (of all genders) supporting their choices, have been given the opportunity to learn about beer, have not been patronized or slighted, have been invited into the conversations about beer. If you’re a beer oriented business, you better get a move on in properly including women. Hint: Beer is not a gender product; it’s a passion product. Sell it sexless.

2. Women are Women. Not Girls (this is a bad choice of group title), Chicks (so is this – especially since beerchicks.com is soft porn…connection anyone??), Babes, Broads, of Ladies. DO NOT trade out sex for intelligence. Men don’t call themselves the Dick Drinkers, Beer for Boys, or other gender labeled titles…why would women subject themselves to these titles?? If you’re part of one of these groups, I strongly recommend renaming the group. It’s not important what you think a name is clever. What’s important is what resonates and how it speaks to the rest of the population. Step outside yourself when you name a group to see how it could be interpreted. Sexism in the beer world is sadly partially perpetuated by women – these titles are counter productive.  This is a good naming example.

3. Color does not equate universally to flavor. If I had a dollar for every time someone says they don’t want or do want a ‘dark beer’, I could fly my entire monthly WEB meet up to Belgium. Twice a year. AAAUGGGHHH!!! Color is related to color of ingredients, specifically the roasted (or kilned) level of the malted barley or other ingredients that have color to them. Yes, there are relations yet not foregone conclusions. Drink blindly. Don’t be a beer racist.

Go forth and debunk.



Marketing To Women

Marti Barletta's M2W - great resource

Yesterday I shared one of my highly recommended resources and today I want to share another.

Marti Barletta has been specializing in Marketing To women for a while now – she’s sharp, dedicated, knows her business and has been highly valuable to companies who want to truly and authentically market to women.

Women Enjoying Beer nods in her direction. I read Marti’s Book, Marketing To Women, 2nd Edition, when I started WEB. It is also one of my go-to and return-to resources.

Marketing beer to women, while not Marti’s specialty, is mine. When you can understand and acknowledge that marketing to different groups is just that – different – then you are headed in the right direction.

p.s. The Bittersweet group should read this book….

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Beer Is Not Wine CBS!

I feel ultra compelled to share the following with you.

As a member of the Brewers Association, one receives a daily Monday through Friday e newsletter chock full of great information, conversation, happenings and so on. Horst Dornbusch posted this spot on piece this week.

This, sadly, made me laugh out loud – and then get slightly pissed off.  ‘To wit’ indeed Mr. Dornbusch.

I’m in your camp and wanted to share it with WEB followers. If you agree readers, SPEAK UP !! Call CBS, NBC, FOX, whoever demand accuracy and proper representation and get them to realize Craft Beer is NOT a novelty nor nearly this ridiculously monochromatic. You get the idea. Act and we shall all receive.

Here it is.

“Mainstream Media Still does not (!) Understand Beer

Beware of false saints!

I followed Julia Herz’s link to http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/07/03/earlyshow/saturday/main6643411.shtml?tag=pop in BA Forum Vol. 16-0706, which guided me to “CBS Early Show features wine expert Ray Isle talking up ‘Beervana’ in Portland, OR.”

While it is commendable that organizations like CBS have begun to recognize the existence of craft beer as an important part of our culture, I believe the piece behind the link shows how far we still have to go in educating the media and much of society about craft beer. To wit:

* Why on earth does CBS need a “wine expert” to showcase craft beer? As if there weren’t enough brewers or beer journalists who could have lent a (competent) hand!

* And then there was this zinger in the write-up: “Rogue Dead Guy Ale: This is a darker, more intense style of ale (technically, it’s a German style called a Maibock).” This is inexcusable (even though in Texas, equally inexcusably, a Bock must be called an “ale” by law). I really must tell my friends in Munich about this American “Bock” innovation! With such brew-technical nonsense, Mr. Isle has shown himself to be a mere vacuous pontificator, a false saint!

* A quick look at his food pairings, too, reveal Mr. Isle’s rather unsophisticated understanding of beer: He singles out as suitable pairings “grilled seafood, raw oysters, that sort of thing;” “chicken, potato chips, pretzels, you name it;” “hamburger;” “anything from fried shrimp to French fries;” “sausages on the grill, barbecued ribs, that kind of thing.” How pedestrian and utterly predictable!
“That sort of thing, that kind of thing, you name it,” and—who would have thought—hamburger, pretzels, and fries (!)…such is the august advice from a culinary “expert.” To me this is proof that there is still a huge wall of ignorance about good beer out there that we must not tire to tear down!
Horst Dornbusch
Cerevisia Communications
West Newbury, Massachusetts

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All About Beer has a really informative, good to read article this month entitled  How Does Your Beer Taste? And How Do You Taste Your Beer?

Terroir in our beer

Part of what we taste involves terroir.

Terroir has been a term long used in the wine world. It’s starting to be applied in the beer world too – as it should be.

Terroir is defined by dictionary.com as, well, it’s not there. Heck, the spell check in WordPress doesn’t even offer it. Hmmm…so let’s go to Wikipedia (there’s a message right there).

Wikipedia states, according to its aggregate style information:

“Terroir (French pronunciation: [tɛʁwaʁ]) comes from the word terre “land”. It was originally a French term in wine, coffee and tea used to denote the special characteristics that geography bestowed upon particular varieties. Agricultural sites in the same region share similar soil, weather conditions, and farming techniques, which all contribute to the unique qualities of the crop. It can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place,” which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the manufacture of the product.”

It goes on:

“The definition of terroir can be expanded to include elements that are controlled or influenced by human decisions.”

Finally I’ll clip this snippet “Terroir in other drinks”. Yet – alas!! No even a hint of a mention of beer.

Curious since terroir is all about the influence of where the ingredients were grown or raised. Beer has 4 primary ingredients. The water, grain, hops and yeast will all contribute so many flavor characters, and arguably all 4 could plainly exhibit their own terroir. Is that terroir to the 4th power?

Julia Herz has talked about Terroir per beer. We should all be listening to these ideas.

Tasting goes well beyond the obvious. That’s why you should savor your beer.

Even if it’s hot and you have a great session beer in front of you. It has its own terroir so take at least a few sips and give it the opportunity to expand your thinking and please your taste buds before it simply quenches your thirst.

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Giant Oak Market Share

  • Who’s your target market?
  • Who’s your primary buyer?
  • Are they one in the same?
  • Do you seek new market share?

WEB started small...now we're up to 24+ at each monthly meeting

If you’re a brewery, brewer or brewpub and are searching for ways to get more beer in more glasses of educated consumers, look at the mighty oak idea.

Joel Salatin puts it this way in his book Holy Cows and Hog Heaven.

“Giant oak trees do not propagate themselves by dropping 20 ft. babies out of their tops. They propagate tiny acorns, because that is the smallest viable structure of the parent….Its size is its strength.”

To paraphrase for WEB purposes and beer, you have to start entering a market with tiny efforts. The efforts take water, light, food and attention to grow.

  • If you think marketing to women is a novelty or ‘small’ market share, think again. Think big.
  • If you think by starting small, where economy of efforts isn’t where you think you want it to be (read – it may be more of an investment than you think you want to afford), know that it will payoff. Period.

Women make up the majority of the entire human population. Hmmm. Isn’t that worth courting?

When you court a market share authentically and accurately, you WILL grow some mighty oaks. Mighty can be pockets of fans, groups far or near of enthusiasts that continue to sneeze and every kind and size of group in between.

Start small. Every idea starts that way no matter how lofty the goal may be.

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Three Cheers – In The Right Glass

Here’s an article that’s headed in the right direction.

Makes me cringe when I see ice cold glasses used for ANY beer, whether it’s supposed to be served chilly or not. Beer is not supposed to be served frozen.

When giving any kind of event or education piece, this is a critical light bulb turn on. Here’s my analogy.

Say you have a garden ripened tomato. Do you store it in the fridge? If you do, what happens to the taste and flavors? What happens to the tomato? What then is your experience going to be like?

Beer, like garden tomatoes, needs to be served (preferably when possible – and it’s not being snobby) at its best temperature. We’re not talking about getting candy thermometer out. We’re talking about good uncommon sense. What temperature should it be served at, approximately? Lager? Crisp out of the fridge. Stout – let it warm up just a bit to really be able to enjoy all the flavors.

Do you see pourers of Guinness grabbing a frozen glass? Cold glass, fine. Frozen – the beer doesn’t really appreciate it , me thinks.

Plus who wants a bunch of frozen crystallized froth in their beer glass?

So pick your glassware, pick the right temp of the glassware. Double whammy for double the pleasure and authentic experience.

This isn’t being a snob. It’s knowing what you like and asking for it.

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I Believe…

I believe that you can’t say thank you enough.

that it’s important to live with fortitude and gratitude.

that myopia is deadly.

that taking care of ourselves is the first step in taking care of everything else.

that curiosity leads to intelligence.

that awareness is a big part of progress.

that volunteering should be required.

that I am grateful every day for innumerable reasons.

that common sense isn’t terribly common.

I believe in self discipline, self respect and authority.

in punctuality, reading and growth.

that administrators of knowledge have a responsibility to share that knowledge.

that throwing a passion tantrum occasionally is highly effective.

that being loud doesn’t mean you’re right.

that we are life long learners.

in preparing for life, teaching to objectives, monitoring progress, adjusting to the situation, and moving forward.

that success begets success.

that good humor is a critical ingredient in life for us and those around us.

that we must in flexible.

that we must have standards.

that we should enjoy our vocations and have fun as often as we can.

that everyone deserves a second chance.

that on occasion we have to suck it up.

that no is the hardest word to accept.

that informed education is the only path to ensuring the perpetuity of democracy.

that integrity and ethics should guide us.

that being an adult means wanting critical feedback, thanking the source, and then acting on it.

that growth is sometimes uncomfortable.

I believe that affirmation and confirmation are important.

that talk isn’t cheap, it’s invaluable.

that it is not important to always ‘ be right’, it’s more important to do right.

that not crowing about our own achievements is not always becoming; it’s better to let others notice and crow for us.

that words and voices are powerful tools.

that being thoughtful tacks actual thought.

that passion can be constructive and destructive – use your passion responsibly.

that engaged and intelligent people make things happen.

that being humble is important.

that arrogance is never attractive or appropriate.

that replacing your’ ‘but’ with an ‘and’ makes all the difference.

that follow up and follow through are critical.

that connections to each other and the world around us matter.

I believe we live in a  truly remarkable country with boundless opportunity.

that being controversial is better than being neutered.

that we can disagree agreeably.

that nobody is useless.

in being a geek and not a snob.

that good teachers have good curriculum and an open mind.

that better is still better.

that smarter and simpler are better.

I believe that this is a short list of what I believe. And I believe I can make a difference.

What do you believe?

– with a grateful nod to Charles , Laurie Bernstein, and my Jackson County Master Recyclers class.



National Tavern Month

May is National Tavern Month – woo hoo!

Craig’s right on in the this article – it’s a reason to get out and celebrate.

Responsibly, with friends, supporting the local economies. Need more reason?

Okay. May 17th – 23rd is American Craft Beer Week. Support your brewing community, America. They do much for the economy with solid jobs – and everything jobs in a community bring, progressive thinking, promoting responsible consumption and savoring the affordable luxury – beer.

How do you plan to celebrate?

p.s. a good book is a good way to extend the fun…

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Point Missed

Unless my interpretation’s wrong (and I hope it is) the initiative is still missing the point.

The point for marketing to ANY SEGMENT is to educate, ask them what they want, then engage them accordingly. Yes, I know we are in different countries – the premise is the same.

Authentically and accurately marketing to the market share you are pursuing.

I find the statement by this writer (if it is accurate to the Bittersweet Project’s interview here) still off target.

“…with the aim of making beer more appealing to women”

It’s not about making it more appealing; it’s about finding out what the heck they want, what they don’t want and taking it forward from there.

If they don’t find it appealing in general, this is a futile exercise. You need to ask the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ first – before you take action so you can know what action to take.

Kristy, tell me you do focus groups expressly with women to find out what they like, what they don’t like about beer – any one’s beer, not only  Molson Coors UK. Or fly me over and we can work together to make sure the point is on target – for the women, about the women, of the women.

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Doug & Dan

p1030340Pints up to Doug and Dan at Buckbean for this honor! I concur.

They invited me to be at the 1st CANFEST last October in Reno. Very cool to see a beer festival focused on canned beer.

Myth busting time folks!

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Kiwi Connection

Check this out – New Zealand even picked up on the scoop of Women Enjoying Beer…

Thanks to Rob & Rachel for getting this to WEB!

And by the way, Geoff, I’d be glad to come to New Zealand to help educate all enthusiastic and curious beer drinkers.


p.s. remember to be a beer geek not a beer snob.

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Are you making your decisions on purpose  or are they incidental? Or worse, by default?

p1020140Operating any household or business, organization or entity requires thoughtful action. Thoughtful as in thinking things through. Being full of thoughts on the issues at hand.

When you simply rely on or allow default, when you don’t address the issues as they need to be, you are defaulting on way more than that one decision. You’re defaulting on yourself, your colleagues, your beer, your customers and your expectations.

Would you brand your business “Default Widgets: The One To Fall Back On”? Did you open your business to just meet the bare minimum?

Is something ‘that’ll do’ good enough for you? Or do you purposefully strive for better?

People everywhere – including your present and potential customers – want and deserve more.

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Denver Hotel Bar

Today’s post goes out to Joel and Wes of Knoxville Tennessee. I had the pleasure of coincidentally sitting at the same bar in the hotel last night for a beer and dinner.

gorgeous snowy Denver Colorado

gorgeous snowy Denver Colorado

They’re in Denver to ski – excellent plan – and I’m here on (pleasurable) business. One great thing about Women Enjoying Beer is that it’s a real conversation starter.

“Really?” is the comment from a lot of people when I introduce myself and pass them a business card. Beer holds a lot of allure and fascination regardless of if people drink much beer or not.

(I know…tough job. I do take it seriously while having fun at it though.)

So Joel asked me last night – what did I think were the two top reasons women didn’t drink much beer.

I turned the question and asked him what he thought the reasons were. His answer: calories and carbs.

Bingo – one exact reason WEB is around is to bust those kinds of myths.

Not so – and this is according to the hundreds of women I have talked to about beer, whether formally in focus groups or casually at, say, hotel bars. The calorie and carbs issue is a perfect example of advertisers marketing to what they think women want – without necessarily asking them directly. It’s someone else’s lens placed on the view.

And while health is  part of the conversation for women and beer, as it is for men as well, it’s not the very top of mind issue.

The top two would easily be:

Number 1 they haven’t been marketed to accurately and authentically hence little engagement.

And number 2 that they haven’t been actively and consistently pursued educationally. i.e. breweries specifically reaching out to women about beer – not pandering or patronizing. Reaching out – recognizing the potential, realizing that beer should be genderless in it’s audience yet  you have to first capture that market share to address it (like any market share).

And it’s not what I think. Those answers come from a large number of women from all kinds of backgrounds and in many different demographics.

Thanks Joel for the lively conversation and asking questions. The conversation has to include all genders. I hope you two had a fun night in Denver. How was Wynkoop?

One comment

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Keg, Bottles (and not vs.) Cans

p1040169This is a good article on outlining why cans can be a good option. Thinking about it is the first step.

Indeed, whatever receptacle we choose to get our beer in, be conscientious of its impact, how, why, when, again and so forth.

Taste profiles of beers right out of a can and right out of a bottle and right out of a keg and right out of a serving vessel….

Keep in mind beer is always best fresh, best served how it should be served regardless of how it comes.  There are resources aplenty of the sensory science behind glassware. Rebecca would know for sure.

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Glass Matters

Found on the table after the event...

Found on the table after the event...

The different beers served with the recent men’s beer pairing and tasting:

  1. Stout – small straight cylindrical taster
  2. Lager – half pint glass
  3. IPA – half pint glass
  4. Barleywine – flute
  5. Double IPA – wine glass
  6. Cider – flute

Glassware matters. Focus groups have told me time and again that what they drink out of is can be integral part of the experience to them.

  • Size
  • Capacity
  • Style
  • And for those who know sensory science, Design

Beer deserves to have its own and proper glasses for serving. Just like the wine industry has identified glasses that optimize the wine, brandy makers have snifters and so forth.

The glassware we had on hand and used was partially to get them to rethink their drink. Looking at it for color and head, smelling it for aromas, swirling it about for aeration, ideas for presentation.

Rethinking requires a new approach be taken. Different glassware can do that.



Last Night, Sitting At The Bar…

…I noticed that all the patrons who had bellied up were women. How refreshing.

Why is that? Because these women were comfortable in their ‘third place’? They totally enjoy good beer? They like sitting at the bar?

p1040011There’s a lot of information that many women have shared with me in focus groups, casual conversation and online about sitting at a bar. This example was rich as it’s still atypical. No reason it needs to be.

So what can you do – as  a brewpub, taproom, or bar with a strong beer commitment – to authentically attract more females into the fray? To build up the only 25 – 30 percent of women (who are the majority of the entire human population)?

Encourage the women to sit at the bar, engage in intelligent entertaining conversation, invite them back.

Change is relatively easy to affect if you are active in pursuing it – not just saying “I wish…” and “someday…”

It made my night. Then I finished my double IPA and went home.

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This Is (not) The Way To Do It

This article is a perfect example of how NOT to market to women.

Cross country WEB van finding women everywhere who enjoy beer

Cross country WEB van finding women everywhere who enjoy beer

The beer community is fortunately blind to gender in pricing.

Yes, this crap still happens. It’s up to everyone to change gender bias. And it’s why Women Enjoying Beer exists. I’ve had some critics say “why make it (WEB) gender oriented at all.” Well, when this stuff stops happening to a enormous MARKET SEGMENT (what gender is) then we’ll all be good.

Until then, I’ll continue strategizing over a beer….

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