Remarkable Marketing

I find this to be a head scratcher:

MillerCoors Makes Manly Pitch With New Hard Cider Brand” – watch the ad courtesy, Ad Age.

The article states:

“Hard cider is one of the hottest sectors in the alcohol business, but MillerCoors thinks the category is still missing some testosterone….Smith & Forge is going after the common man. MillerCoors sees opportunity in the fact that cider purchases skew far less male than beer.”

In the world of quality I think MillerCoors is world-class. Flavor is different from preference so remove any bias based on your own preferences. Why not focus on flavor instead of gender? Why not make an equally female savvy ad (if you can call the ad savvy…it is clever and fun) for the same product, delivering equal time to the worlds most oft-forgotten beer and cider drinkers: women.

Aside of this, the piece, which is *almost* non-gender oriented, stills screams ” Beer Is For Men, Cider Is Not.” Enter: Gender. WTH.

Time to blow the lid of gender, beer & cider

Time to blow the lid of gender, beer & cider

Who has ever said that beer is masculine? That Cider is not masculine?  The wrong thinking has pervaded here because the already 70%+ of the beer drinking market that is male will be hard pressed (get it?!) to get past all the other gibberish we’ve been slowly force-fed to the end that men must like beer.

Interesting point: That apparently “A Boston Beer spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.” What exactly did they want Boston beer to comment on? Oh – how about this, from the author:

“She said that ‘while Angry Orchard in and of itself might feel masculine,’ the brand’s ‘design techniques,’ such as its ‘whimsical tree’ and color scheme, ‘lean a little bit away from the masculine side.’ “ [attributed to Rita Patel, director of new product development at MillerCoors]

This is the wrong thing for one brand to say about another – to assume they think they know what the entire consuming body thinks. No, Rita, don’t do it. In fact, I’d like to have a cider or beer with Rita and other powers that be at MillerCoors to learn exactly where they think they are coming from – cause me thinks it ain’t the consumer. (Rita – call me anytime here)

The merry-go-round goes round…and round…and round…to the same tired music with the same wrong-headed thinking on all accounts.

I look forward to the day the phone rings and someone with some impact from the largest and most influential breweries call and ask, “So – what does the consumer think?” of us. That’ll be a red (apple) letter day.

p.s. and who precisely is the common man??

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Marketing Navigation

Are you entirely 100% self-sufficient?

Please pause and think before you respond.

  1. Do you ever call a plumber, architect, gardener, mechanic, cook, or carpet cleaner?
  2. When was the last time you visited a doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist, dentist, or business coach?
  3. Did you build your home, is it fully self sustainable due to your efforts?
  4. Do you get food at grocery stores and farmers markets?
  5. Do you use a dry cleaner, visit a pizza parlor, or make your own ice cream?

If you said yes to any of these and you’re a business, then it’s time to examine hiring the right person for Market Navigation.

Marketing is a crucial part of business life. Here’s a good article on the topic. Hiring the right marketing pro to help you build a business of any sort is a smart move. Just as hiring an architect is the best and usually only legal practice in planning a safe and functional space. If only businesses had to get the sign off of a pro marketer – what a great fantasy!

Hiring the right Marketing pro: The dawn of your success

Hiring the right Marketing pro: The dawn of your success

I don’t say that out of greed – I say it out of relief. Smart businesses, organizations, associations and groups that would have to have proper plans in place. It’d weed out a lot of inept and potentially corrupt folks, bad products and would help self police for professionalism across industry lines and categories. It’d greatly improve the general public’s view of marketing and advertising – though distinctly different, they are related. It’d be liberating to know that pros had been called in to get the businesses set up for best success, both internally and externally.

What a fantasy.

Thing is, this fantasy can be reality for all. Investigate marketers, call friends for recommendations, interview potential marketers and marketing companies to see how they can fit with what your dreams, goals, and practices are. Hire the ones that fit, develop a clear Letter of Agreement, and be totally wide open in your communications.

I guarantee it’d be good for the marketing industry as well. There are really good ones and really poor ones and everything in between. A bit more standardizing would be in order.

Look to a marketing pro for your successful business navigation. Think of them as partners in moving you forward by adding their strengths and skills to yours in a complementary fashion.

Being self-sufficient means knowing when to add a helping mind and set of hands to your pursuits. It’s a sign of strength and a productive way to make progress. Citing lack of money is a cop out and holds no water here. Everyone has money for what they need – and the world needs much better Marketing forethought and navigation.


A few recommendations:

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The Minimum Isn’t Enough

  • What’s your minimum?
  • What’s your maximum?

To properly respond, you’d have to quantify and qualify what the heck we’re measuring. It’s important to know your thresholds. In a given circumstance, what’s the highest you’ll go – is there a limit? What’s the lowest you’ll go, what’s the minimum. And what exactly is enough? Enough of what?

Minimum, by its very definition, means “the lowest number or amount that is possible or allowed.(Miriam-Webster)

The bigger question here, no pun intended, is why would you go low? Why aim high?

We aim high because like the title of this post states, the minimum isn’t enough. Does it beg the question, should I raise the minimum, thereby creating a new minimum and when is that alright? Does it create a vicious cycle?

I don’t think it does. Low doesn’t mean bad. High doesn’t mean unreachable. These are subjective words at best and we pour whatever definition sauce over them that fits our situation.

Regardless of how low or high you wish to go, decide what your minimums are. It’s easier to flex with maximums. Know your deal breakers and deal makers.

And save “low” for the limbo.

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No Such Thing As A Beer Belly

I’m tired of people blaming beer for their own lack of self-restraint. It’s time to cry foul!

Here’s the deal: How many times have you heard someone remark that the state of their belly is a beery one? How many times do we hear someone comment it was their own self-indulgence, lack of self-control, and simply putting down the fork and glass together?


I’m appalled that people will both blame the beer yet never themselves and will never include that its them, not the beer. It’s not funny – its pathetic and insulting to the beer. People are good at playing the blame game and it needs to come to a screeching halt. I’ll go first.

Here's what my beer belly looks like.

Here’s what my beer belly looks like.

As a guest at a business focused meeting last week, one of the attendees giving their pitch indicated 2 times that “if you have a beer belly, then we can help…” some such nonsense, per a health practitioners services. WHAT!? It was all I could do to not call bullshit on the spot. I simply was not going to let that bad and incorrect idea fester longer than humanly possible.

What did I do then? When it was my turn, I refuted the myth point-blank. At these types of meeting, no one would dare to call someone who needed mental health therapy “crazy” or someone grossly overweight “fat” or an ineffectual consultant “a quack”. Heavens no – let’s all emulate some sort of decorum, to the perpetuation of not being able to be direct and create change.

YET we unabashedly blame beer for a belly of a person that is clearly not taking care of themselves.

Here’s the gist: Everything we put in our mouths matters. Quantity, quality, frequency and both nutritional and caloric value matter. Equally so, exercise, moving our bodies, improving our habits and taking full responsibility are keys.

Numerous health focused studies have proven that alcoholic drinks in moderate amounts in harmony with an active lifestyle and thoughtful total diet (of which these drinks are a part) add up to a component of good health. Take control, take responsibility, and don’t let others get away with beer murder.

Ever heard someone say they have a “wine belly” or “cocktail pouch”?

Never blame the beer. Look in the mirror first. And when someone blames their belly on beer, call them on it. I’m totally with you.



The Power Of Words

Micro. Local. Regional. Organic. Nano. Macro. Small. Big.

What is the power of words when applied to the topic at hand? They have a huge impact in many ways. Words are labels – and if you follow the site, you know I talk about labels with some regularity.

When we fall in love with something it’s usually due to an emotional response. Reasonably so since we’re sensory beings and we tend to lean with our emotions. Because we are also thinking creatures, we should then engage the brain and think things through in conjunction with our emotions.

To be able to totally remove emotion from decisions seems cold and calculating to some, liberating for others. I find a combination is wise and the balance of which one holds more sway depends somewhat on the decision at hand.

Am I interested in going out for pizza? Well, my emotions will most likely take the lead since my senses are the biggest audience to this decision. Did I like where I went last time? Would I rather make it at home? What new place has a friend recommended?

Once these questions are considered, I may ask: what’s the monetary investment? How far or near is the place? Do I want to see lots of people or go to a relatively quiet place? These are more brain focused decisions for me.

Pour your words carefully. Photo by Judy Pavlik.

Pour your words carefully. Photo by Judy Pavlik.

In the greater universe, there are loads of people enjoying beer. All over the world, all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds. Great, I say!

I’d turn then and state unequivocably that there are too many people in the beer world who are judgmental to a fault. They choose to judge a beer on various emotional aspects before they dig into the quality and brain type decisions.

Liking a beer or not liking it is an entirely subjective discussion. Liking, loving, bashing, and hating are all emotional choices. And they’re based on a wide variety of experience, sensory and brain input. I give a toast to those who remove their own personal biases and decide what they like about the beer instead of summarily embracing or dismissing it. Who’s to say something is good or bad unless it’s your own choice. A lemming mentality is dangerous and foolish.

Think for yourself and use your words carefully. Before pronouncing something divine or despicable, be diplomatic, thoughtful and calculating. Then be sure to use words that indicate your intelligence: we can all use more civility and diplomacy. Start with yourself first.

The power of words is truly that – powerful. If you want to go to battle, go elsewhere. Beer is meant to be congregational and should therefore be approached with open-minded consideration and an open palate. Take a nod from the well-regarded food pro Ruth Reichl or seasoned beer pro Lisa Morrison or the astute writer Jay Brooks. Their work and reviews embody thoughtful discourse, honesty, and respect.

Once you do some homework on self improvement, engage, embrace, talk and enjoy.

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Why Gender In Marketing Beer Matters

There’s ongoing conversation about whether or not women should in fact be recognized and actively marketed to for beer. While it may seem like a silly question to some, frustrating for others and “huh?” for yet others, I think it’s important. Here’s why.

At the center of the issue is that any population that has not actively been invited to converse and be involved in a conversation needs to be invited. Women here are the said population, beer is the said conversation.

IMG_1112Recently I was contacted by a respected and sharp colleague about writing a column for Valentine’s Day about women and beer, specifically which beers to suggest for women who currently don’t consume. In the stream were 6 other people I know in the professional beer arena and so ensued a query: Should this instigator write about this topic? Is the writer, who in this case is male, qualified to write such a piece? And if so, then what are our thoughts?

Responses were varied, with common themes, which is common in doing this sort of ad hoc research. I commented right away. He’s precisely the right person to do this. Thoughtful, exercising quality journalistic professionalism….and incidentally a man.

Feminism isn’t about gender. It’s about equality and respect and having everyone participate in progress.

One of the goals here is to make the connection of women and beer so obvious that it’s no longer an eyebrow raising, patronizing facet of our society. At this time it’s still firmly entrenched so change we must actively pursue.

Think it’s already there? Think again. When you’ve got people in breweries marketing Double D Blonde, Tramp Stamp and dozens of others with highly sexualized images to go with them, then yes, Virginia – there’s a massive problem.

  1. Is this beer quality to begin with? If so, then why pander to a hormone raging teenage boy level name and graphic. Totally ridiculous, tired (as another write stated), and completely eliminates not just women. It’s insulting to women (reduced to bodily parts) and men (you’re too sex driven to think of anything else) alike.
  2. Why are the women and men in the companies not completely squashing these ideas? Products that have these labels should not be allowed to do business until they partake of meaningful and lasting gender respect education.
  3. “Small” brewers in America are the worst. So no – small isn’t best. Small is small. And in this case small also means small-minded thinking.
  4. I’d hedge a bet that everyone involved in all these brands has a female in their life they care about. Why are they totally dissing her and not seeing the obvious connection here completely baffles me.

One of the colleagues in the stream pointed out that she’d rather have people say holy shit you know a lot about beer,” instead of gee, you sure know a lot about beer for a girl.” I agree. I find it curious that someone who is tired of hearing about gender in beer calls herself a girl. This is precisely why we need to keep talking it out. It perpetuates permission to call a woman a girl instead, thereby indicating she’s under 18 and infantilizing her person.

Out as in, all women and men need to demand full respect in titles and names – yes they matter. Huge. Girls, chick, broad, bitch, and babe are all damning words and do not connote full respect, are not clever in the world theatre and only help stagnate progress. Correct someone when they use girl instead of woman.

There’s a relatively enthusiastic group in the community that uses Girl in the first of three words in a title. While they may preach that they are about education, the very fact that the first word in the title of the name is denigrating is seriously regressive. I expect to hear from one of them, following the post, as I have little time for someone who tells me “F*** you, we can call ourselves what we want,” “get off your feministic high horse” and so forth (they do that). Undiplomatic, unclassy and most importantly closed and narrow-minded. If you’re going to be belligerent an unseeing of the damage you’re doing, I’ll have no part of it.

It’s both amusing and tragic at the same time that there are those who think disrespectful labels and titles are acceptable and keep using them. No you can’t call yourself what YOU want and not push your own myopic and selfish feelings on the rest of the female population. It’s not about you, it’s about all of us.

Left Hand does it right: Ales 4 FemAles

Left Hand does it right: Ales 4 FemAles

We have to be fully aware that if we all want full dignity and respect, then the titles and labels we use in any public arena must reflect that. You can still exercise cleverness as it fits, like Left Hand Brewing’s Ales 4 FemAles – as long as respect is intact. A4F hits the target, retains integrity and respect, and communicates what the group is about.

It’s a well documented fact that in societies where women are fully respected the culture is healthier, happier, and more successful in many ways than those who do not fully respect women and females. Rather ironic that America, one of the greatest countries in the world and clearly a World Leader, is *still* so far behind on gender equality.

You can respect women, men and beer simultaneously. We all should.

I hope we go somewhere with this idea, collectively as a group, since there will be strength and great varied opinions in this rank. In the meantime the writer has my full support, which he had before.

Stay posted…watch to see what happens.

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Pushing the Passion Forward

How do you push your passion forward?

Do you think about it all the time, talk about it with anyone within earshot and blather on about it on as many online formats as you can?

Do you write about it, film it or record it in some way?

And then what else do you do? Meaning, if it’s a burning interest, where do you take it from there?

Who's the right audience for your passion?

Who’s the right audience for your passion?

Sharing your passions with other people involves a great deal of energy and time. It involves knowing when to chat and when to shut up. When to send people information about it and when to withhold.

See, your passion is not automatically assumed to be theirs. And diplomacy, self-discipline and listening are all involved. It’s like Kenny Rogers sang: You’ve got to know when to hold ’em…. Constantly pushing your ideas and interests on others can get tiresome, for both you and the audience you’re hoping to address.

Reading the audience is critical in the proper reception and gauging success. Delivering the right message to the wrong group is pointless.

Vet your audience. Even if you can hardly keep it in, success involves researching your best following. The right supporters will help you paddle the boat. The wrong ones will simply weigh you down.

When you are pushing your passion forward, stop – look – listen and then engage based on what you head (not your heart) tells you. If your head has it right, your heart usually follows.

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Shifting Culture With Women And Beer

As you look around your daily life, what do you see?

Do you see good things? Bad things? Things you want to pursue? Things you want to support? Things you want to change?

At Women Enjoying Beer, we’re very thankful that hundreds – ne  thousands – of women have helped us in shifting culture by speaking up about their relationship with beer.

“Relationship with beer?”, you ask? Yes, it’s a relationship. And it goes waaaaay back for some, for others it’s pretty recent. Age has little to do with some facets, and sometimes everything to do with experiences.

We love the research part of our work, which is what in fact drives the whole effort forward. Asking “why” questions like a terrible two year-old (or enlightened genius in the making!) is exactly where examination and progress is made.

So why do we do it? How did I choose this path and what do we actually do? Theses are two very common questions we get.

1. How did I choose this path: I looked around 5 years ago and wondered why more women didn’t enjoy beer. Notice I didn’t say drink. There’s a huge difference in enjoyment and drinking. Enjoyment of beer does not require the drinking of it – it’s about community and opening your mind. Searching for those responses then are the driver ever forward. Why, why, why.

2. What do we do: Lots. It starts with the qualitative research with women. We then utilize that highly valuable insight to shift culture by working with entities of all sorts that know the impact of knowing how to successfully address the worlds largest population: females.

A cross-section of just some of the clients we’ve worked with looks a bit like this (full page and listing coming soon): Universities like CWU; Brands like Lakefront, New Belgium, and Ninkasi; Events like Mt. Angel Oktoberfest, Congreso Cerveza Mexico, TFOB; Institutions like OMSI, SOPTV; Associations like ABL, PEO; Businesses like McQuade, Doll, Maletis; Media like KTVL,, NW Travel Magazine.

Why do we do it? Because it’s meaningful work, overdue and fascinating.

Education changes the world for the better. Once we gather the research information, we educate forward. Love and money may come and go, education stays with someone forever.

Women and beer are the two universally existing facets of life in earth. What better way to shift culture than to start with two universally recognizable things.

Gender equitable cultures and societies are more productive, more balanced and better over all for this small planet of ours. We want to be part of that work.

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Turning Down Mintel And Stanford

If you’re a researcher of any sort, personal or business, then you realize how much time, effort, energy and work is involved.

As qualitative researchers, the data we gather on women and beer is not only singularly unique, it’s highly valuable for entities that want to examine how women make decisions. Knowing how a person makes all the why, how, and when questions is incredibly useful insight that can be immediately and effectively applied.

So when someone comes knocking on our (usually email) door and asks for either free information or with the “offer” to be included in their publications, I say no. Mintel and Stanford are two of those entities.

Here’s why.

1. The folks inquiring for the free information are not offering a return to us (payment) for the product we supply (information). There’s seemingly no consideration to the fact that real multi-year work has gone into the seeking out, gathering, compiling and preparation of this information. Do they get their groceries for free saying they’ll tell everyone where they shop? Doubt it.

2. These people are making a salary. Therefore what they are saying is that they expect us to give our work for free, even though they are being paid. They want our work for free though they get paid. This makes no sense, is arrogant and self serving with no consideration to the supplier.

3. In these cases they’d also use the information we can supply to further increase their revenue, give them more selling points to their clients, and reap increased benefits, while we see no return. They want to use our work to make themselves more money. I’m all for entities making money – they simply need to budget for all costs of services and goods, research included.

4. No it’s not good enough, in fact it’s insulting, to assume that the exchange of saying we were included in their work is acceptable. It’s not nearly what we want and thoughtless to not even ask about compensation. It totally disrespects our work and makes them look like cheapskates, which they are being in this case.

5. Free “work” doesn’t pay the bills. Exposure gives you frostbite or sunburn.

It’s truly astounding to me that people in these companies first of all ask with no expectation of paying for the products. And secondly, they try it explain or hide behind labels that, in this case, really make them look cheap and unprofessional.

For Mintel, the old untrue saw of “we don’t have any money for this” comes out. Baloney, I’ll state nicely. That’s absolutely untrue. Stanford, the same thing. You’re successful profitable institutions and you already pay for staff of all kinds, supplies, space, utilities and the like. Yes, you can afford to pay for this product just as you buy your student or work body computers and air conditioning.

We all have money for what we want to buy. If you’re in any sort of business – education, for profit, non-profit, whatever – you’re in business. You’re there to serve and make money to put back into your efforts. I see no difference in the pure  purpose of operating. And don’t argue with me on this one. Too many entities try to use their structure as a crutch. That simply insults them more, frankly.

When you want a product of high quality that is singular in its content that can help you serve your purpose, expect to pay for it.

Respect those you ask for information by talking about the investment that accompanies the transaction. Information is a product just as widgets, beer, and computers are. People ignore that we all need to make a living to contribute. And when we all respect that value proposition, then we can all give back more.

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Beer & Health: Resources

Cheers to Beer & Health!

Cheers to Beer & Health!

As promised yesterday, here are some Beer & Health resources that others have generously shared with me.

A few other folks chimed in and provided personal experience and insight, though no other resources. Thanks to them all. I hope you find this helpful in your pursuit of beer and health connections.

NOTE: I’ve not had time to yet read or look into all of them, so do your own diligence.

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Beer & Health

The Craft Brewers Conference 2009 and 2013 both offered a Beer and Health session. I was at both of them as I find this area of the industry fascinating and well worth my time. They were both informative, myth busting and thought-provoking. The speaker in 2009 was Dr. Arthur Klatsky.  Dr. Mack Mitchell was the 2013 presenter.

Beer & Health Information: critical to all

Beer & Health Information: critical to all

Here are a few of the insights they shared (I hope I got them right):

  • Women and men show a lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes with moderate drinking
  • Hops = phytoestrogens; very different from human estrogen
  • Alcohol does not destroy brain cells
  • Neural stem cells in rodent trials with heavy consumption reduced functioning cells
  • The National Institutes of Health = good resource

The talks were both extremely enlightening and I sincerely hope the BA includes more of this type of information For accurate education based on solid research, for resources, for busting myths and building understanding. These are all reaching and important areas of the beer community.


I’ll share more resources on beer and health that generous and helpful industry colleagues have shared with me, per a request.

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Do You Listen…

…to the murmurs?

…to the needs and wants of your customers?

…to their concerns?

…to yourself and your good judgement?

…to others’ professional insight as it may apply to your efforts?

…to what brands are really saying about you as a customer?

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Beer Vigilance

“You must be absolutely vigilant to what your beer looks, smells, and tastes like to the consumer.” – Kim Jordan, New Belgium Brewing, CBC 2013

Success isn't a long shot if you're vigilant.

Success isn’t a long shot if you’re vigilant.

I’d agree with Kim on a number of levels.

1. WEB studies women and beer. We get direct input from women about wanting to go-to beers they can rely on. Reliance is dependent on consistency and expectation of anticipated experience. We can state factually that this will help your brands be successful with female market share.

2. Consistency indicates constancy to purpose and dedication to making something great (presumably) over and over again. That unto itself requires a commitment to repetition and redundancy, in the name of building a solid brand.

3. If you can’t repeat a feat and it’s one that should be able to be repeated, there’s work to be done before it gets to the consumer.

Beer brands take note: You MUST be able to repeat the beers you make. If you can, you’ll build a brand. If you can, you can build a company. If you can, you can build a culture that women will want to support and enjoy.

Distributors and Retailers take note: You MUST be strong in your knowledge of what quality is and consistency will follow. Customers want both of these things. And reputable brewers do as well so support the ones who are vigilant and you’ll be successful as well.

“See consumers as partners. Consumers are counting on us.” – Kim Jordan

If you can. And we all can. It’s a choice. Be vigilant and be successful.

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Small Business What?

What businesses did you patronize in the name of Small Business Saturday? Did it make you feel good? Or did you miss the window to act on the day of that particular call?

I find it curious that some entity feels the need to designate a day for this. And the timing of it is even odder: it’s during the biggest spending period of the year for Americans, so why do it then?

Is this plant "small" or "big"? Who decides?

Is this plant “small” or “big”? Who decides?

Why not in the middle of June, early October or late March. Why not stretch the entire idea to a quarter, or better yet year round to build steady consciousness instead of a one-off. The effort is clearly being put forth to get people to shop at small businesses. Maximize that effort by expanding it.

It really starts with what is a small business? Who determines that definition and what’s the regulation therein? What happens when a “small” company outgrows the definition – then what? And who’s arrogant enough to set the definition in the first place. It’s my business – why are you deciding to put the word small with it? And who says I want any delineations? (I don’t)

In this case American Express has dubbed the day SBS. It has some cleverness from a marketing standpoint. It’s easy to say, slightly alterative, and engenders the feeling you’re doing something good with your dollars. There’s an assumption in what you’re doing by participating: by shopping small businesses on this day, you’re supporting your neighborhood.

Oh, if that were really  the case.

Do you know where your small close-by establishments get all their goods and wares? Hmmm?? What coffee shop is “yours”? Does coffee grow in your neck of the woods? How about those fasteners at your neighborhood hardware store – where are they made?

The idea is encouraging you to buy from small businesses, yet there’s an unmistakable connection they want to appeal to. Both brilliant and subversive at the same time.

I’d venture a strong guess that every business started by any person felt HUGE. Starting and running a business is a whole life style for most. It influences, changes and affects everything. It’s another label – which, if you follow WEB at all – you know that I disdain and discourage.

So…small business Saturday. What I do like about it is that it’s not thumping the Buy Local chest. That’s getting old and abused, like Natural and Organic. And we easily forget it’s always been a global economy. Always.

Before you get uptight, know that I do agree with buying local. I also agree with making thoughtful choices in everything you buy, not just one one day of the year that a single company has decided to try to get us to act on.

I’d suggest: Buy Responsibly. Do your homework on the goods and services you wish to entertaining purchasing and move on those findings. Small, Medium, Tiny, Large, Mega. We all buy differently and are driven by different motivators.

Buy Responsibly is still a moving target, just as Buy Local and Small Business Saturday is. Remember: You’re the one who has to sleep with yourself at night.

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Beer & Wine: Together Forever Workshop

I’ve been loving putting the ‘and’ where it belongs between beer and wine with tastings that feature both of these wonderful libations this year.

Beer & Wine: Together Forever workshop 11.10.13 - awaiting guests!

Beer & Wine: Together Forever workshop 11.10.13 – awaiting guests!

Last Sunday found us at it with a room full of guests ready to sip-in. The Ashland Culinary Festival takes place the first weekend of November in Ashland OR. In 2012 I lead two flavor oriented beer education sessions – this year we included wine.


Because flavor is where you find it. Beer, wine, spirits, mead, cider, perry, sour cream, tofu, whatever. It’s not the “what” that’s ever as important as the “why” behind what we try. To be diplomatic and share your affinity for whatever it is forward with tact and enthusiasm is tantamount to developing more ‘and’ connection, less ‘vs.’, ‘or’, and ‘but’.

And who ever said you have to pick either beer or wine?!? No one. It’s just unhelpful conjecture and our own roadblocks that we put up.

Knowing more about anything includes investigating the ‘why’ – the Why is what drives our decision-making processes and it’s loaded with helpful insight into ourselves and those around us.

Our friends at Weisinger’s Winery was our host location and contributed the wines. Local brewery Standing Stone Brewing Company provided the fresh tasty beer. David Schultz of Sysco generously sponsored the entire event and provided lovely accompanying food nibbles.

When I started the session, there were at least two great guests who said they “weren’t beer drinkers.” By the time they walked out, smiling broadly, they both happily claimed they were. Still in the learning stage to be sure and supported by the entire room, it’s important to note that an open mind is key. 

Cheers to beer and Cheers to wine! Here’s the menu we savored.

  • Beer: Wild Trail Ale brewed with Yarrow and St. John’s Wort with the Beers Made By Walking collaboration.
  • Wine: 2010 Petite Blanc, blend of Viognier, Chardonney, and Gewurtztraminer
  • Beer: Vienna-style Victory Lager
  • Wine: Lot 20 Mescolare, proprietary blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc
  • Beer: Steel-Cut Stout
  • Wine: 2010 Estate Tempranillo
  • Foods: Sysco lightly seasoned wafer crackers, Monterey Jack & Cheddar Cheeses, 3 varieties of fresh pears, dark chocolate disks.

Go ahead. Have a beer AND wine tasting party. It’s easy, simple, and fun.

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Defining Beer


noun \ˈbir\

: an alcoholic drink made from malt and flavored with hops

: a drink made from roots or other parts of plants

Full Definition of BEER

1:  an alcoholic beverage usually made from malted cereal grain (as barley), flavored with hops, and brewed by slow fermentation
2:  a carbonated nonalcoholic or a fermented slightly alcoholic beverage with flavoring from roots or other plant parts beer>
3:  fermented mash
Let's let beer be beer.

Let’s let beer be beer.

There’s a lot of conversation around what beer is these days. For the record, Mirriam Webster gives us a sound starting point (above) with commonly held and obviously researched definition of the beverage.

So why do some voices in the (especially professional) community want to splinter what “beer” is and should be and therefore create a divide within the word? It’s a waste of time and efforts should be put elsewhere.
When we label things and concepts, we further delineate – we divide and we don’t conquer; we damage, denigrate and alienate. Invariably as soon as we label something – anything – one way, then we stop thinking for ourselves and accept that thing as defined in that way. We become racists to the definition put before us and therefore become belligerent and unaccepting.
Reading an article in Time magazine this morning with my breakfast, the point is progressed. Temple Grandin and Richard Panek, authors of the piece, should know. Ms. Grandin has invested her life is being enormously successful in ways that, if she felt restricted by someone else’s definition of what an autistic person should be, would never be supported or believed.
I’d ask:
1. What’s the goal to be accomplished by dividing this universal beverage into categories? What’s to gain and for whom does the gain benefit and whom does the advancement disable or damage?
2. Who’s to say they are the authority to make such a definition?
3. If various definitions are created, then how does the education of that new information roll forward? What’s the educational piece or why would this be beneficial in any way beyond professional exclusion? You can’t just create something and expect everyone to automatically be on board.
4 Who will you leave out and alienate in the name of creating an exclusive label? And what’s the ultimate goal of the whole definition concept and execution?
I know that the people behind some of this conversation are smart, thoughtful, and worldy folk. I laud them for their passion, their vision, and their incredible energies and talents applied. That’s not the issue at stake here.
I think it’s a fool errand and a huge waste of time. Make a definition, fine. Then use it amongst yourselves but don’t expect the general populace, who already has myriad confusion on some of the explosion and growth and ideas around what the modern beer landscape currently is, to adopt it and feel the same way.
Let’s concentrate instead on bigger much more relevant and important goals. Education, quality, transparency, and diplomacy. Everyone gets to ‘play’ and in the end, like Stan says, it is only beer. He’s written a good piece here on the same wavelength as well. Thanks Stan.

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Be A Good Guest

It happens every once in a while.

We get a festival guest who approaches the booth, they’re interested in talking about what they have going on and we’re glad to listen. For the most part the questions and comments and conversations are around what WEB does, questions around what they think it might be, and comments about their own experiences. All very productive and mutually beneficial conversation.

The once in a while interaction is strangely consistent. It tends to go something like this.

1. A guest approaches the booth, usually a female. We get lots of men who visit us as well, yet this SCS (strangely consistent scenario) is almost universally with women.

2. She starts to enthusiastically tell us about a project she’s involved in,  is planning, or otherwise is closely associated with.

3. We lean in and listen. Since I do most of the fests, I get most of the guests and for sure this kind of conversation. My crew is well versed at directing topics like this to me when I’m there. Sometimes I’m not smiling because I’m concentrating on the offered information.

4. The guest is very focused and not great at listening to questions I may ask about the venture; sometimes they get defensive and want to argue with the research we bring up, diplomatically and directly, which we offer freely – usually after asking the guest if they want input. Many don’t – they’re too focused and deep into their own ideas.

5. The guest’s attitude turns sour and they walk away. Bear in mind they approach us, ask us (often) what we think about their idea, we tell them based on our 5 years of research, and they get short and leave.  They don’t want to hear what the only professional independent women + beer research company has to share with them.

At a recent fest, which was lovely all around sans this interaction, it happened again. The guest approached, dug in, looked at me as I was listening midway through the conversation, sharply stated “I can tell you’re not interested”, immediately turned on her heals and left.

Here are a couple of thoughts.

1. If you want to share an idea with someone in a booth, on the other side of the table, at an event, be sure to respect that they are also a thinking person and they deserve your respect and good manners. It was very rude to simply accuse me of something she didn’t have any basis to judge me on and to abruptly say such a brisk remark and flee.

Be a good guest - like this fine woman!

Be a good guest – like this fine woman!

The smart alek in me wants to say “Really?? You can tell I’m not interested and you’ve only just met me and talked at me for 5 minutes solid?? How can you tell? What are you basing that on?” That inclination is quickly buried though because it’s counterproductive and not appropriate.

2. It’s always irksome to have someone feel they can treat another person this way. It’s unmerited and certainly unprofessional…no matter who the ‘guest’ is. She could have said “Hmmm – I think you’re not into this, thanks for your time…” and moved on – or better yet ASKED me before making the knee jerk judgement.

3. She wanted to be right and she wasn’t into listening to others even when she approached us. I shudder to think that one of the concepts she was telling me about was going to be a consumer facing venture. If that’s how she treats others, I’d caution you to watch out! It’s not about being right. It’s about conversing respectfully, listening, and making progress together.

After she stormed off to her compatriot waiting for her return (I could see the companion on a bench), I was tempted to go after her. That quickly dissipated since she had been so rude that to try to figure out what was going on would truly be a waste of time. If someone is closed-minded, no sense approaching. They’re closed and don’t want to be open.

Here’s the crux of the matter:

1. Approach people at fests, in booths, at tables where they can’t leave and do so with diplomacy, good manners and with a mindful eye on what they are there to accomplish. Most of us are trying to make a living and this is one facet of the work that’s usually very fun. Be nice and you’ll get nice.

2. People at fests, in booths and at tables WANT you to approach with good manners, a fun attitude and to converse in a respectful way. It’s cowardly and bad form to approach, unload and then flee.

3. Always put yourself in the workers’ shoes. Tables or no, respect needs to be present. If you want to argue, check before you engage so neither of the parties feels uncomfortable. Some of the very fun guest interactions we’ve had are lively and spirited ones in which you know they’re having fun, and the challenge is mutually respectful. Those are encouraged and appropriate.

4. Finally, never tell someone on the other side of a table (the worker) they’re wrong. It’s an insult to the work they’ve done to get to that point – and to have an unknowledgeable person, however well intended, tell you how you should do this or that, or that it’s really this way or that is irritating and insulting. “Really?! Did you do the work we’ve done as well – and what does your research show?” If you want to talk with them, do so when they’re not a captive audience.

Get out and about and support local festivals of all kinds. Approach booths and engage in fun, enlightening and respectful conversation. We’ll all make more progress that way.

Cheers to the thousands of “great” guests we get the pleasure of meeting each year. Our sincere thanks! Nuts to the crabby, ignorant, and rude one.

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Taking Care Of Business

“For hundreds of years before its creation in 1867, Canada drew explorers, traders, and farmers willing to try their luck in a new land. And of course, before that, Canada’s original entrepreneurs, the First Nations, had thrived in a harsh environment for thousands of years. …

We have not forgotten…the lessons all successful entrepreneurs quickly learn about the important of being adaptable and innovative and taking good care of customers.”

-Calin Rovinescu, President and CEO, Air Canada

excerpt from En Route, Air Canada magazine, 07.2013

Know the past when looking forward

Know the past when looking forward

Mr. Rovinescu is right. We must look back to see from whence things came in order to best move forward. Don’t dwell on it or try to keep it as it was. Look at the past for reference and reverence.

Look at it for inspiration, education, and innovation. Then look forward.

More people who proudly call themselves beer snobs need to stop and smell the herstory of beer. The hard work that came before to make the modern landscape of the beer community possible is meaningful and necessary to bear in mind.



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Marketing Behavior

It occurred to me that marketing behavior runs along the lines of fire behavior. Where’s this coming from, you may ask? Okay, allow me to expound.

With the Summer Fire Season in full rage, it hit me in listening to public radio and reports of fires during my last road trip, that beer marketing behavior is along the lines of fire behavior. Being a former firefighter as well, I like the connections. Tell me what you think:

1. Fire Dynamics is a study, just as WEB studies women and beer. You must know the subject matter before you can begin to fully understand it. Do you know of a brewery or beer focused business that has actually tapped into the female beer buyer and consumer? Knowing your subject matter is where it all starts. Your subject matter in marketing equals your target market. Your target market is the one who will buy and also support, since buyers and supporters aren’t mutually inclusive.

2. Defining Fire is the same as Defining Your Market. Who’s your buyer, as alluded to above?

Marketing Beer to Women properly: Explosive potential

Marketing Beer to Women properly: Explosive potential

Who is the market you’re trying to attract. And why? If you don’t know the Why, they you don’t know why they buy. It’s that simple. You must know the subject matter first (reference #1 above) in order to know how to properly define and identify your market (#2 here).

3. Measuring Fire. Wow! What a great way to think about fire. And what an appropriate way to think about market share. Measuring the potentially explosive female beer buying market share is easy. Women in America make between 75 – 85% of all purchase decisions, across categories. This has been studied for a long time and is consistent. So measuring your market involves considering the buyer female populace that you can also turn into an enjoyer, whether they drink or not. Support here is critical and that’s one way you can measure: female buyers of beer.

4. Heat Transfer. Let’s call this Marketing Transfer. Who are the beer brands marketing to currently? Who should they be marketing to? Women. Again a very simple yet mystifyingly overlooked and untapped market share of buyers. There’s no good reason that all beer brands, distributors and retailers should not be looking at women as the buyer and therefore future majority share of enjoyers.

5. Love this: Fire Phenomena. It’s no Phenomena to WEB that women will be the ones to ignite and fan the flames of the beer buying and support market. Think about it this way: the 70%+ of men who already consume beer can not be the ones that will support the explosive growth of this countries breweries; there’s not enough men to do so – it’ll saturate first. It won’t pencil out and while I’m not a big believer in stats, it’s a numbers game to see that growth will come from a market share that is not properly represented and pursued correctly.

Main message here: Don’t wait for a beer fire to explode in your neck of the woods. Pursue knowing who will be your next customer: women. And do it in a successful and respectful manner. This is where WEB comes in as the planets only business specializing in women and beer, qualitative research that is impactful, immediately useful and meaningful.

Cheers to starting a beer fire with women ~

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Comment on Big Data Download Article

Instead of signing in *yet* to another account in order to comment online, I opted to not do so. Since I had drafted the comment in response to this article, I wanted to post it freely here.

1. Here’s the Article, States That Drink The Most Beer, by Big Data Download

2. Here’s my comment:

“I continue to find it ironic and ignorant that articles like this and many writers and journalists who seemingly cover the beer topic (frequently to always) negate the potential female beer drinker. Where is this included in the future looking? If people are so damn reliant on stats, they must keep in mind: stats are static. They’re previously measured facts. They don’t account at all for the Why in the purchasing decisions.

Why wasn’t someone like myself or the authority of Marketing to Women Marti Barletta, Trendsight Group, consulted for this piece? It’s lacking, seriously. More than that it’s incomplete information and therefore connotes a certain ignorance, however unintended – though this day in age all populations need to be factored in.

The breweries of America – and the globe over – are surging. They will need new market share to be developed to support them. the fact that so many breweries overlook this STILL, of all sizes, absolutely baffles me.

You’ve got to know your market and you’ve got to know how to develop new markets. Women aren’t a new market, they buy the vast majority of all goods and services and are still not included. Stunning. Sad. Unacceptable.

Ginger Johnson, Founder, Women Enjoying Beer”

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