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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The Great American Question

It’s the Great American Question: What Do You Do?

We encounter it at every turn. In some countries its “where are you from” or “what’s your family name” – in America it’s the preoccupation with what we fill ours lives with, usually in reference to gainful employment.

How do you answer the question? Do you assume the person wants to know your profession? Do you ask why they’re asking? Do you respond with a volunteer or non-paid activity? Do you go farther with the topic than a flat response? And do you return the query?

Do you know how to talk about what you do in a creative and thought-provoking way? Too many people preface it with “just.” As in, “I just stay home with my kids” or ” I just sell insurance.”

Just schmust. By using that word for your work and time you’ve downgraded the importance and value of it. That’s counterproductive and bad for everyone.

When I run into someone who teaches for a living, for example, I may get “Oh – I just sub.” Having taught professionally in the Public Schools I can tell you there ain’t to “just” about it!! Hell, the full timers can’t get by without substitutes. In fact, I subbed for two full years before I had my own classroom. A qualified and adept substitute teacher is worth their weight in beer. Those who get it, know. Those who don’t , deserve to have to fend for themselves with no help.

Be excited about "what you do" - it's contagious

Be excited about “what you do” – it’s contagious

Being of the working class, I often get asked what I do. When I share, I deliver it in an engaging way. It helps that many folks find the combination of women + beer intriguing. I don’t take it for granted though and treat every first time ask as an important one. It matters not if you’re in the car business, a teacher, plumber, or consultant. Speak proudly of your work and others will rise the the occasion.

I’d suggest you get rid of “just” all together unless you’re talking about the law.

I’ve never heard a pro brewer, maltster or hops farmer say ‘I just grow hops/brew beer/make malt.” They’re proud of what they do and rightly so. Consumers need to adopt the idea that their opinions matter remarkably, especially new market share entries like many women.

Time is highly valued and to denigrate what you may choose to do. Using these four letters in this particular order when describing what you do is, well – just too bad.

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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, Craftbeer.com, 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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Earning Customer Trust

How do you do it? How do you earn trust?

  • When you build a reputable company, of whatever size and products
  • When you talk your talk and walk the walk
  • When you are authentic, admit mistakes, celebrate victories
  • When you are inspired and smart business people
  • When you can really step back, invite productive critiquing, listen to feedback

Then you earn trust.

How do you earn trust from a whole new market share that has previously not been included?

Earning the trust of women for beer companies isn't difficult.

Earning the trust of women for beer companies isn’t difficult.

Same as above with full initial recognition that every market segment is singular. Do not boilerplate strategy and tactics from one group to the other. Reference, fine. Good actually. Simply know and act on the fact that each segment is different – that’s the definition of segmentation. A sub-division and therefore a separate examination. Different market segments think and make decisions differently.

Earning women’s trust in the beer world is easy and simple. Start with basic research and go forward from there. Exercise fill respect and value. Include and inquire.

Don’t screw it up though. Be thoughtful. It’s incredibly hard to reverse the thinking in the mind of a consumer to negate a previously negative experience. All brands should take that advice.

Women enjoy beer. They want to be recognized as a powerful, viable, and smart market segment. They don’t want to be marketed to as women. They want to be marketed to as intelligent flavor loving people – just as everyone wants to be.

It’s a fine line yet to us it’s extremely obviously. Segmentation is smart when you want to research and define knowledge and therefore direction. Know the difference of segmenting for research and segmenting for marketing. Take care with both and you’ll be successful.

Women will be happier for it, knowing they’re respected and necessary for the brands’ success. Progress will be made, and that’s good for everyone.

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ROA = Return On Attention

Where do you focus your attention? Where does your attention go to, stray to, and otherwise fix on?

I heard about ROA for the first time at the CBC and like it.

Female consumers are focused on a number of aspects. The 3 Universal Truths is one place to start. Another is simply to ask female beer buyers and consumers where their attention goes. Be sure to ask the Why too. Without the why, the where is way less meaningful.

What’s your ROA?

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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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What Lies Below The Surface

What does your surface look like?

Let’s start with what is the surface for you. Is it a skin, a layer, a barrier? Is it imaginary or literal?

In listening to an NPR article on this topic, the analogy was a great one.

  • Coffee = Murky. You can’t necessarily see what’s below the surface.
  • Tea = Clear. Generally you can see below the surface, perhaps even to the bottom of the cup.
What's below the surface?

What’s below the surface?

So what is it about both the surface and what lies below that can either be helpful or be detrimental? And how do you see what’s ahead whether murky or clear?

When I think about marketing beer to women, there are a few fundamentals:

1. First off, remove the thought of gender as the segmentation – think instead of a pure segment opportunity. Yes, the segment is gender specific, yet the whole premise of WEB and why we do what we do is that an entire enormous population is available to consider and involve.

2. Next, when thinking about beer, remove the ridiculous notion that’s long been fed by advertising and marketing that beer is for men. While some beer companies still thoughtlessly perpetuate this tired out of date tactic of discounting women, women are eager to try, taste and enjoy this universal and ancient beverage.

3. Lastly, always keep your mind open. The surface and below the surface of your thoughts must remain receptive to the idea of women and beer in order for positive culture change to happen. That’s what we’re after: culture change.

When two things as elemental and universal as woman and beer can be quietly and seamlessly thought of together, with no hiccups as to gender or bad preconceived ideas that beer isn’t for women, then we’ll be successful.

I say cheers to that non-surficial success. Keep looking.

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Beer Delcaration

What’s your beer Declaration?

What do you want to preach from the rooftops about how you feel about beer? About the flavors and people? About how those who invest in the beer business by and large are great contributors to our communities the globe over?



Me? I want to – and will continue to – talk about Beer Diplomacy. How important it is to be an open-minded person when it comes to beer, among other things. That being open-minded instead of a self-professed “snob” will make the progress of women, beer and flavor all the smoother and better for all.

I want to remind those who know and teach those who don’t that the work Feminism means equality for all. Beer is not a gender issue. Nor is WEB truly about gender. It’s about opportunity and talking and inviting a population (women) who’ve not been traditionally included in the beer conversation.

I want to share ideas, thoughts, suggestions and recipe notes. I want to pour and sip and nosh and taste with friends I already know and with people I haven’t yet met. I want to give beer to those who will embrace the experience and be another helpful diplomat with more and more people.

Pushing forward diplomacy with beer is as critical to me as is beer education taught by a well-rounded and enthusiastic person who sees beer for what it is. Gorgeous, flavorful, fun, meaningful, and simple beer.

Culture shift for the better, which is a big part of the goal for WEB, will only happen with open-minded people, being diplomats, sharing information in an approachable way for the greater good.

This I do declare.

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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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Harmony And Discord

Can you have one without the other? Do you want one without the other?

Do you know who your market is and how to reach them?

Do you know who your market is and how to reach them?

The best case scenario is to have discord that turns into harmony. For without knowing something is discordant to begin with, you may not recognize that there needs to be harmonious improvement.

Does it happen all at once? Do you walk into work one day and say “hmmmmm…things seems to be at odds? What can we do to improve this?” No matter how you notice it, the noticing is the key. Here’s a very real world example of discord to harmony.

Say you’re a beer brand that packages and sells your beer in cans. Sales are through the roof. In fact, you can hardly keep up with the sales demand in the taproom, with the distributors and retailers that sell your beer, and on site customers. There’s something wrong.

Yes, there is. Selling all the beer you can possibly make is an indication you’ve created a demand, however incidental or strategic.

Here’s the discord to the above scenario. Do you know who’s buying the beer? If you cannot answer that clearly and with accuracy, there’s a problem. You must know who is buying the beer – just as our retailer, distributor and sales and service staff needs to know this. It takes conscious awareness of registering Who’s Buying The Beer.

Answer: Women.

Simply selling for sales sake is the wrong thing to pay attention to. You need – no MUST – know who is buying the beer. Always note that the buyer and the end consumer may or may not be the same person. Though with 75 – 85% of all purchases in America (across category lines) being determined by the female consumer, you do in fact have a problem unless you fully know and recognize this.

If you don’t, you need to get on the marketing beat and figure it out. Maybe women aren’t your primary buyer. Are you willing to not know and hedge a bet on the future without knowing who your buying market is? That’s foolish.

Doing market research is some of the best invested time, energy and money you can utilize in developing your beer brand. Women the world over deserve full respect for themselves as a buyer and for their dollars.

Whether you have an in-house marketing department or you rely on your gut (which is both dangerous and foolish), it’s always best practice to get an objective professional involved as well. They’ll help you affirm or adjust. Our clients would agree. And the hundreds upon hundreds of women who have volunteered their opinions, insight and thoughts on their relationship with beer will thank you for paying much better attention.

The best brands do this – get professional independent insight to make sure they’re on course for the business, the products and their valued customers.

And knowing your market is something you need to refresh your brand with regularly. An annual checkup, just as you visit a dentist to check your choppers, check your marketing chops to make sure you’re on track.

Call us when you’re ready to examine your markets and who’s buying, what brands and labels your selling, and how that impacts best success.

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Who Is The Beer Shelf Set For?

About a yearish ago information came out about beer shelf sets. A shelf set is how any product, in this case beer, in a retail setting is arranged, organized, identified and merchandised in an off-sale setting (retail).

One version of this information has been sitting in my ‘write about it’ folder. Today’s the day.

The “Trends in Chain Shelf Sets” presented by a very adept and intelligent employee of a successfully growing brewery. This article is about the consumer, not brands or distributors. I found the presentation highly informative and engaging, primarily because the presenter did such a thorough job at creating a convincing argument. Yet it didn’t even touch on the one who should be predominantly factored in: The female consumer.

The info I have is from a power point presentation used to present at a national beer distributor convention. It’s got all kinds of Retailer Concerns, Why Do We Care, pictures of example shelf sets, and Distributor Concerns.

What I found myself thinking was: What about the consumer? Isn’t she the one they should ultimately be considering? Isn’t she the one who buys the beer and needs to be absolutely included in the conversation and development of beer shelf sets?

Are you including women in your beer shelf set strategy?

Are you including women in your beer shelf set strategy?

From our perspective the answer is easy: Of course. Women buy between 75  85% of all goods and services. Here’s one source, and another, and another…by the way, this third source is one everyone who wants to market to women needs to listen to.

Females as the primary buyers have long been supposed. The figures range yet unequivocably females are the dominant buyers. So let’s go back to beer shelf sets.

If she’s the one buying the beer, then she needs to be part of the decision-making. Yes, brands want to sell their own, of course. That’s a pretty acceptable and natural assumption. Yes, distributors want to sell the brands in their ‘house’, that again is a pretty normal conclusion.

What always makes me scratch my head is the fact that women consumers – the ones paying the bills for brewers and distributors – are not even discussed. Not a whimper of input, not a whiff of female buyer insight.

That’s unacceptable. Because to set product with only the manufacturer and distributor in mind misses a huge mark. The mark in fact that is critical to any shelf set working anywhere. Why make any product without the consumer and end buyer in mind?

Here’s what I suggest will vastly improve the situation and why:

1. In off sale settings, breweries, retailers and distributors need to invite savvy female buyers who will give them straight input in the design and purpose of beer displays of any sort. Why: Because she’s the one they want to respond to it so she should be part of the plan.

2. If these same off sale locations want to really have the shelf sets resonate with a great deal more of the female buyers, then they need to invite them en mass, in groups, in parties of 4 – 10, to evaluate different shelf set options. Why: These women will give voluminous and incredibly helpful insight directly from the wallets that buy the beer.

Market research exists for a very basic reason: To consult the market you’re trying to sell in. To include them means success, constant input that will change with the times and attitudes, habits and trends. To disclude them is arrogant, short-sighted and detrimental to any brand.

Beer is a unique and universal beverage. Available the world over, made by women the globe over and purchased by women everywhere. Always remember that the buyer isn’t always the end consumer either.

I challenge any beer brand and beer focused business to include women in planning beer shelf sets. All the static plan-o-grams and oft ill-conceived with no consumer input shelf set plans won’t hold a candle to the real deal: In person live direct honest feedback from the customer you should be trying to court.

The whole point is to test the market – with actual market participants. It’s not a good idea we can pat ourselves on the back about unless the end buyer relates, approves, and can use it easily as well.

Here’s the kicker – this kind of market research I am suggesting is high value, low dollar investment for the return any off-sale retailer would see at the cash register. It’s a wise investment that will pay big benefits in higher turns due to better education opportunities, lower frustration due to findability, and consumer focused organization – not brand focused.

Here’s another reason why this is important: Women are not universally invited to the beer table. Regardless of what anyone thinks about any brands, they are still grossly and inaccurately depicted in the vast majority of all advertising we see. TV, video, print, posters – all of it, no matter the size or reach of the brand. If anything they’re left out and that’s not progress either.

Women have not traditionally been invited and in many places they are still silently neglected. One key of this whole idea is to educate. Beer labels, like lots of labels, are a singular educational opportunity. Some brands are good at including helpful information on the label what a newer market share needs and wants to know, in this case women. Most are bad at it. Flat out. They don’t include ABV, non technical flavor descriptions, and food pairing suggestions. Why not? There is not good answer to this – as ever beer brand should be doing this, for all consumers.

There is no one way to set beer on shelves. It’s as subjective as the neighborhood the store is in and as varietal as the consumers that patronize it. Mix it up, get that input from her and then constantly adapt it to improve it.

Beginning consumers, which many women are in relation to beer, all need helpful basic product information. This information will encourage purchasing, trying, rebuying, recommendations, and a loyalty to the brands that help them help themselves.

Shelf set strategy must include the parties brands are trying to reach. In the case of beer, it should be women.

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How Big Do Steps Forward Need To Be?

Any size. That’s the answer. As long as you’re headed forward, take them. Don’t concern yourself with how “big” they may be or seem to be. Size isn’t the issue here – movement is.

When you look at women and beer, and you’re wondering how to make those steps forward – where to even start for that matter – simply start.

Start by talking it over with key staff. Start knowledgeably though. Tap into resources that can help you determine how the female beer buyer and consumer want to be reached. There’s only one dedicated specialist of women + beer (us) and there are a few other beer centric researchers that can provide some insight that is useful as well.

Just as you’d hire an architect to help you build a building, you need to hire a specialist to help you build female beer traffic, done right starting with her first.One gross misconception is that specialists (otherwise known as consultants) require huge dollars. I’d change that to a few different angles.

1. Can you afford to not have the right specialist on board, with whatever the concern is: plumbing, marketing, equipment, licensing and so forth. Would you like to start with knowledge in your brain, or backtrack later to try to save a sinking ship?

2. Useable knowledge is powerful and worth the investment. AND don’t rule out a consultant until you’ve talked with them, fee wise. Most I know are willing to start with what your budget at hand, talk it through and see how they can help with what you’re working with. Note that sometimes the expectations, both ways, are totally unexpected.

The ongoing qualitative research we conduct is constantly insightful, available to beer oriented businesses who want to really earn more of her business, and do it starting with what she thinks first.

This is not difficult information to digest and execute. What seems to be the difficulty is that many in the beer business still don’t understand there’s even a concern. Thankfully for women and men everywhere, more are understanding there’s “something to this women and beer thing.” Not enough though.

The people who have already hired us and continue to want to work with us get the importance of examining different market shares. Thank you to our valued allies and clients. Women everywhere thank you.

Different markets need different strategies

Different markets need different strategies

And that’s what this whole thing is about: market share. You have to know who you want to attract. Tampax don’t market tampons to men and elder care is not marketed to teens. Duh. Beer is the same way.

Yet in this case it’s more surprising that more beer focused businesses aren’t looking closer at this. Women make between 75 – 85% of all purchases, across categories. Never mistake buyers for consumers. They are not always synonymous.

Earning valuable market share, as markets shrink and grow, as they morph and change, as they are born and as they die, businesses much examine what market they are after and how best to earn their business.

Specialists help you dig into that meat of the market. When you’re ready to attract more of the worlds most powerful market share, contact us.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve a client call in half an hour that I need to prepare for.

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Opening the Flood Gates

I love new clients.

Let me expand and quantify: I love clients who are the ones that have the correct perspective in mind when it comes to women. Here’s what sets it off:

1. They understand  that women are the primary buyers.

2. They want to correctly address that segment of the population and market to gain their business.

3. They know they need to do address them with full respect utilizing specialists to do so.

4. They understand that specialists can offer a great deal of assistance and therefore progress of their vision and brand to do so.

5. The investment to them is welcome, since they know it’s not their area of strength.

6. They get to the point, they’re open and honest, the philosophy is clear and they’re ready to roll.

7. They’re putting the piece of business called marketing in equal measure with the other aspects of the business.

8. They may not entirely understand what we can ‘do’ together, yet they are confident in hiring us as the leader of independent women and beer research and that has the value they’re looking for.

9. They take smart calculated risk. Risk = thought out. Chance = luck, for better or worse.

10. They take the plan seriously, but not themselves too much – they can see humor, share the information we need to best serve them, and hold us as an equal partner in our work together.

11. They want us to open the floodgates that properly addressing the worlds largest buying population can offer, done right to the ultimate benefit of women and men everywhere.

Well matched partners grow together.

Well matched partners grow together.

Today’s post is inspired by a recently engaged client who is all of these things. It’s not only fun at this point to work with and for them, more importantly it’s meaningful, exercises the years of qualitative research we’ve gathered and it matters.

We won’t work with just anyone. We want to work with people who have a vision, a business mind-set, a passion for their category (be it beer or otherwise), and are capitalized to be able to execute the plan.

So thank you today to this new client and thank you to past clients who’ve seen the value and opportunity in hiring us. It’s our goal to be a partner with our clients. The ‘right’ ones make that part come together easily and quickly.

If this post describes you and you’re ready to tap into our knowledge of women + beer to improve your operations, call me. I stand at the ready.

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Looking for the Obvious


Females and males populate the earth, of all species.

Homo sapiens are one of the (over) populated species walking about.

Look for the obvious: the female beer buyer

Look for the obvious: the female beer buyer.

If you look at sheer numbers, you’ve got half the population that’s female and half that’s male.

The primary influencer of dollar spending in the US is that female population. When you search, you find that between 75 – 85% of all purchases are made by women (across categories).

If we then go to the level of beer, a relatively small portion of the whole pie we’re examining, we can then see the obvious: Current marketing to women by the beer companies is lacking. If women make the majority of purchases of beer, then they need to market to her.

The dynamic of the sexes would joke about this yet the fact remains that women are the primary buyers, of beer as well as cotton swabs, cars, and widgets.

Look for the obvious. Obviously women are the primary buyers. Why wouldn’t all beer companies see and act on this?

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Women + Beer Survey Insights: Report #3

“What kind/s of beer do you like?”

Well, it’s official: Women like all kinds, styles and flavors of beers.

So go pick up a breakable plate, in indelible ink write “Women only like fruity/light/sweet/any other assumption” and then proceed to smash it into a zillion pieces.

Smell that? It’s sweet vindication. I feel better already!

To adopt the stance that women like any one style of beer only, is to be an ostrich. It’s also extremely narrow-minded, assumes women don’t like flavors and then dismisses them as a market share. It’s insulting as well as ignorant. And if you’re in the beer business, it’s certain death.

Women buy 75 – 85% of all goods and services in America. Google and look around and you’ll find info a’plenty. If you live elsewhere, know that women are an equally potent economic engine. Women still apparently consume a minority of the beer bought, and they still need to be encouraged and treated as a full player in the game of life and beer.

Women learning about & enjoying beer - they like it all!

Women learning about & enjoying beer – they like it all!

Women like flavors like men like flavors. Of course they do. Let everyone who comes in contact with beer who shows any kind of interest try as many flavors as possible. Encourage, endorse, explain.

The great thing about flavor experimentation is its low commitment. Try a reasonable sip – if you like it, keep sipping. If you don’t move on.

There’s no such thing as a woman’s beer just as there’s no such thing as a man’s beer.

I’m so very happy to report this: that women do in fact enjoy beer flavors across all styles and categories of styles. Women have spoken. Listen up.

If you’re a beer consumer and you’ve found one beer you kind of or do like, then we encourage you to find another one in that style or brand family. Ask a helpful retailer, ask WEB, or as a brewery for help. We’re all very glad to assist.

Report #3 covering this question will be available for purchase by 7/1/13.

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Women + Beer Survey Insights: Report #2

Report #2: Why do you like beer?

While this question may seem almost identical to the first question, it holds some very different insight. A group of contributors stated “same as above”, citing question 1, many more continued “AND“…. To go on and expound on more reasons that fit the Why.

The Why is the critical piece here. Asking the Why questions is where progress and insight meet. Once you know the what you have to ask the why. Otherwise you’re simply not doing diligence to educating about beer. Education here is two, if not, multi-directional.

Education for beer has to develop at a minimum:

  • Consumer to professional
  • Professional to consumer

P1100136And we have to break this out to really make it productive – there are many, many kinds of professionals in the beer world. So let’s include a few more directions in the intersection:

  • Vendor, supplier, grower to consumer
  • Consumer to vendors, supplier, grower
  • Retailer to consumer
  • Consumer to retailer
  • Distributor to consumer
  • Consumer to distributor

Assuming that there are only 2 steps of the building we call Beer Education (Consumer + Brewery) is a huge misstep. Grower, processor, shipper, packager, vendor, supplier, broker, brewer, retailers, distributor, consumer…. As Sam and I covered last year at NBWA, there are more than three tiers in the system. Even Charlie extols this idea.

No matter the set up of your tiers though, the consumer has to be factored in. After all they are the ones buying the end product. If they didn’t do that, then everything else leading up to it is moot.

A few specific sections that make themselves known in the report for Question 2 include flavor & taste, care & quality, and versatility. (The entire report, due out soon, will thoroughly expound and explain the input of the respondents.)

If you’re a beer professional, in the business at all – brewery, writer, controller, marketer, founder, cellar person, retailer, distributor, growler filler….Get comfortable with asking the Why.

If you’re a consumer, keep asking why questions of all the above people…as well as growers, producers, packagers, vendors, suppliers, brokers, and so on. It’s infinitely interesting, is a straight route to increasing your beer knowledge, and I’ve never known someone in the industry to turn down an opportunity to talk about beer.

Why not?

Report #2 will be available for purchase in the next month.

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Women + Beer Survey Insight: Report #1

As promised, today we’re digging into sharing some insight as gathered from the 2012 Women + Beer Survey.

Report #1: Why Do You Drink Beer?

While there are many categories of reasons and the nuances are numerous, one of the most common themes is Affordability or at least the perception of affordability.

Let’s make an exploded view of this seemingly simple statement to understand it more.

Affordability goes directly to the heart of one of the 3 Universal Truths we regularly discuss: Value.

Value and affordability are both their own moving circles, with overlap possible – or not. Overlap of the two require the person to tie these two concepts together, however they do, in order for them to work in harmony. Let me give you 2 scenarios to exercise this idea:

1. A long time friend is coming to town. She wants to get together and go for beer and dinner. We order a $25 dinner table bottle of a beer we both want to enjoy. The value of the entire experience is that my friend is coming to see me and that’s HUGE value of time and enjoyment. Adding the component of beverage and food ups the value for me and her, so we’re still good. Affordability in this case may well go hand in hand because we see it as an overall experience of our relationship, which has high value which will most likely lend us to ordering whatever fits our budget for the night (however conscious or unconscious that decision piece is).

2. I decide to go to an outdoor event, say a concert of a sports match. With or without friend/s, I get to the facility and, knowing in advance I can’t bring my own, I anticipate buying what they have available for beer. If its $2 canned beer night, guess what – that’s great! It fits my idea of what I may want the event to be like, in totality. OR it may not – wherein I settle for what’s available. If I like what’s available, I order one or two or whatever is appropriate. If I’m less happy with the choice yet happy with the event, then I may only buy one beverage – and it may or may not be alcoholic in nature if a choice is available. Affordability and value have equal import, yet entirely different circumstances. As does every situation in our lives.

IMG_0268Within these two seemingly simple scenarios, there are myriad options and paths to go down in the  decision-making process. We make some of them so fast and automatically, that we hardly give ourselves time to get thirsty. Sometimes we belabor them, drawing out the various situation and selecting what we like the most, having put more thought into it.

We want these reports to be valuable and the input that was freely given is. You have to know how to use the insight though – it’s not a face value study that we’re compiling. Yes, much of the info is straight forward. And all of it has context.

  • If you’re a beer professional, then this is your signal to keep educating about the value and the affordability of your beer, in many ways.
  • If you’re a beer consumer (and we all are to begin with), then start thinking about how you make the decisions you make as it concerns relating affordability and value together.

This is the tip of the women + beer iceberg. It’s exciting to be creating and compiling, sorting and interpreting all the incredibly useful information that beer oriented businesses will be able to apply.

If you want more on Report #1, it’ll be available for purchase as of Monday 6/10, with upwards of 30 separate facets on this question alone, all of them with their own expanded insight section to accompany and help you utilize this singular knowledge. We’ll keep the series going, covering all 50 of the questions. Some of the 50 questions will require their own report, as there’s simply a lot of ground to cover, and some will be joined with others as they were designed as multi part inquiries and need to be published together.

Cheers ~

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Women + Beer Survey Insight: Series Start

The 2012 Women + Beer Survey is well on its way to being published in a series of reports.

Many others may be interested in the responses so I’m starting a series based on the qualitative research of the responses. Some of the 250+ women who generously contributed freely to the survey indicated a curiosity and interest in learning of the ‘results,’ hence the series.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when reading the series:

First: They are responses, not answers. The word answer would connote for some a definitive end. These are not definitive ends, they are enormous beginnings. They’re only beginnings because the idea of seriously researching women and their relationship with beer is ‘new’ to the modern landscape. WEB is the only one pursuing and compiling, constantly listening and developing insight on women and beer. Our goal is to positively impact culture by putting a voice to women about beer from the women first; companies next; everyone in the end.

Second: Many of the respondents requested to be informed of the outcomes. I’m glad to share some of the insight to everyone, knowing that the full insight is the knowledge with which we can shift culture. It’s also part of our product and we’re happy to make small pieces available that are entirely free.

Third: This site exists primarily to educate all readers and viewers. We like to keep sales pitches to a minimum while still offering useful and purposeful products and services that you can put to work and fun.

Next: The reports will be fully available and ready to purchase, as they are prepared, with #1 being available Monday June 10th. If you are interested in purchasing the report, be in touch with me directly.

Last: Thank you for your time and attention. The Series starter – Insight on Report #1 – will be published tomorrow, 6/4/13. When you want more, watch for the purchase launch date of 6/10/13.

Cheers ~

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Does Your Industry Need More Labels?

Does your world need more labels? More identifiers? Do you want or need more delineation of what makes this such-and-such or so-and-so? Do you prefer to fly with fewer labels and definitions, preferring to define what it is that’s important within your own world and contexts?

I recently read a thought by a long-standing and well-respected (me included) brewery professional. The words were part of a longer sentences to the effect that “craft beer” does need to be defined and identifiable.

I disagree. Here’s why.

I’ve talked about labels and titles before. Starting with WEB, I know for a fact and from our qualitative research, that female labels and titles can be helpful or harmful. This is true with any category.

  • Good: Women, females.
  • Bad: Chicks, broads, babes, girls, vixen.

Any labels in any circumstance that is denigrating in any way, regardless of a closed (non public) audience or not can and will have an impact. When we name things, when we assign them labels and titles, we need to be super aware of this fact: it’s not about what you think is clever or appropriate. It’ll always be judged by others, who may or may not have a vested interest or concern in the name.

Do we have male groups using: Dicks, Dudes, Well-hung and other references to the person’s physical make up? I’ve yet to see one.

No, beer does not need other delineations. As it is there is a reverse snobbery that is growing in the beer world, specifically the line in the sand is using the ‘craft’ label to do so.

My take: Let it go. Beer is beer. Yes, I agree it matters to be transparent and to know where your beer came from. Just as it’s important to know where the pooch you acquired came from (for care reasons) or the milk in your fridge came from (health reasons), or the car or bicycle parts came from (quality, fair trade). There are way more important things to concern ourselves with per beer. Like the fact that almost all beer makers still don’t understand women make 75 – 85% of all purchases across categories AND there are many brands that are still using sexism and gender based marketing. How about we enlighten ourselves on the majority global population and beer first instead of getting too far ahead of ourselves.

At the beginning of the day until the end, it’s all beer. If you want to judge, do it privately and without admonition of others for enjoying what they want to, can and choose to imbibe.

Are these "craft" hops or not? Who cares....

Are these “craft” hops or not? Who cares….

So you know, it’s not without internal dialogue with myself and talking with others that I came to this decision on how I choose to define beer. A comment from another long-standing well-respected member of the professional side of beer threw my nascent thinking over the edge for the better. Stating that all things are ‘crafted’. I can happily live with that and stand behind that idea, over a definition that leaves out perfectly qualified products that others have deigned outcasts.

Some would argue that labels can help the reader and learner better quantify what it is that they’re pursuing. I’ll give you a tiny bit of head way here, though very tiny. Labels are only helpful if they define facts, not opinions or variably definable attributes and characteristics. The whole idea of education is to learn, proactively and actively seeking the increase your knowledge in your own way and through the methods that best resonate with you.

Putting a box around a definition of something like beer that is truly universal can only be limiting in a not so great way, as far as I’m concerned. Let’s all raise whatever glass of whatever beer we want to drink in context and be happy for it.

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