So what is the opportunity to market beer to women?
Connect the dots and find out.
Occasionally someone challenges me when I bring Pink and Girls to task as it relates to being used in the beer world.
Make no mistake: The use of girls in relation to women and beer is unhelpful, damaging, and not clever.
By definition a girl is a female child, under the age of majority, and sometimes used in an offensive and denigrating manner.
Those who wish to stand up and crow about it being okay are not okay. Feminism is the goal of equality for all – and women intentionally calling themselves girls thinking they’re clever and that they have the right to do so are pushing the cart backwards, whether they want to recognize it or not. Equality will not be accomplished by calling women girls when it suits a certain few.
It wasn’t girls liberation, it was women’s liberation. And plenty of women have and continue to die for equal human rights based on our gender.
I absolutely fail to see how using girl where women should be used is in any way shape or form acceptable. Plus I challenge you back: Tell me how progress can be made by calling women ‘girls.’ No such thing.
Calling women girls lessens their full value as human beings. It doesn’t help reduce domestic violence, it doesn’t help reduce battery, it doesn’t help reduce the symptoms of the 23% wage gap, it doesn’t help get rid of the rampant objectification of women everywhere. Go ahead – tell me it’s okay to call yourself a girl and then want to be treated with full respect. Seriously, it’s unbelievable to me how women defend their position and desire to be called a girl.
And for the record, were not talking about femininity here. That’s different.
If you want to rant, go for it. Go do it somewhere else. I’m not interested in anyone – especially women – defending women being addressed as girls.
I believe in gender equity. I believe that everything we call ourselves matters – in every forum, that the use of colors in reference to a gender is out of whack and I’ve no time for women who will stick their chest out to accuse me of not supporting women.
Get over yourselves and your attitude and get with the equity program. Women are women, they aren’t girls, chicks, babes, broads, gals, or anything else. They’re women.
I want to talk about humor in your brand today.
Most people enjoy a pleasant experience. Beer has an inherently pleasant aspect to it, from the community around it to the celebrations that happen with it to the deliciousness our bodies enjoy. Fun is good and fun is appropriate with beer.
Humor used effectively and with respect towards all is an excellent element in marketing beer. In our research over the last 5.5+ years women have solidly stated that appropriate humor is attractive when they are making their buying and consuming choices as well. Here’s where it can get sticky – or not.
What precisely is good humor? What’s appropriate, to whom, and when? While there’s a subjectivity to humor there’s also a lot of (un)common sense that should guide us. Ask these questions of the brand to see if they pass:
1. Is there any sexism in the humor? If there is, in any direction, it’s inappropriate.
2. Is there any ageism or racism or any other -ism that degrades any population in the humor? If so, it’s inappropriate.
3. Can a three-year old see it, can a pre-teenager read it and can my grandparent read it and also think it’s funny or do they miss the humor all together?
Appropriate adult humor does not invite disrespect or insulting any population. This is the time to hire a pro outside the company to review ideas. I know since we’ve been invited to engage with clients who want a fresh eye to help the brand grow, not put off a potential customer or 10. Like Eugene Simor, President of Alamo Brewing:
“Thank you so much. You pointed out much that I missed myself. Very valuable info.” – per reviewing potential new label changes.
You can be clever and funny in a thoughtful manner. That’s what makes Carol Burnett and Bill Cosby and Ellen DeGeneres so funny – they humor us with reality and honestly funny stuff; never needing to denigrate or bring anyone down.
And here’s the kicker: Beer should be elevated, not brought down by people on beer companies that find toilet or racy humor suitable for their companies. If they’d ask themselves: Do I have a female in my life I care about? The answer would undoubtedly be yes – so relate those ties that bind and execute humor that respects those loved ones as much as it should respect your beer.
That’s where humor in beer is appropriate. Use it wisely and most likely you’ll get good feedback and consumer engagement.
How do you do it? How do you earn trust?
Then you earn trust.
How do you earn trust from a whole new market share that has previously not been included?
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.
It’s officially International Women’s Day!!!!! It comes around every year and is reason to celebrate the women and females in your life and the lives around us. Every where.
We all must work on making gender a moot point by simply making sure we’re looking with an equality lens in each and every transaction, conversation, and action.
Did you know…
…that Feminism means “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.”
…that there are still labels that choose to use sexualization to try to sell products, rather than focus on the merits of the products? American brewers of all sizes need to take this day to re-examine their labeling. Support brands that feature the quality and benefits, not boobies and skin.
…that it’s been studied and proven over and over again that when there are relatively equal numbers of women and men participating in society on an equal footing, the society is healthier, more productive, kinder and much more humane, diplomatic and egalitarian.
…quotas of gender aren’t the answer nor the solution. Internalizing until it’s instinct will unconsciously help us in taking action to equalize with positive change.
Write a note or letter to a female you care about today. Someone you admire and who inspires you in any way. It matters not that you know them or not: they’ll be inspired forward to hear from someone who finds them a mentor, an aspirational example and makes them go forward.
Gloria sums it up here: “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights”
Read this. It’s a perfect example of WHY Women Enjoying Beer is around.
To shatter myths, like the fine and well spoken Ms. Smith stated.
To get people rethinking what roles a particular gender should take (answer: whatever they want that they’re capable of!).
To reinforce that YES – the beer community also needs this assistance in the form of our expertise and qualitative research findings to help the entire community progress, from consumer to brewer to importer to distributor to grower to manufacturer to…
Cheers to Zoe! We give a toss about respect, going after and accomplishing your dreams based on your guts and talents alone, not to be judged by empty headed critics.
Today’s explosion of your Individual Beer Learning Plan (IBLP) focuses on People.
People: The most critical item in your IBLP, starting with you!
Besides the commitment you make to your self, who will you contact? Will they be available or interested in helping you learn? How will you approach them respectfully and mindful of their already full schedules?
Who will you call, email or otherwise meet to help you into and through the process? How will you choose people to tap into, connect with, or otherwise ask for help?
How will you make sure to thank and show appreciation to those who help you out? It’s very important that you execute timely appreciation to those who do help you out.
Yes, it may be good for the whole industry and beer community. No they aren’t obligated to help. Yes, most beer community people are happy to – if not eager – help other interested parties into the education fray. And everyone’s busy.
Be grateful in your pursuit and the beer universe will reward you nicely.
Labels and titles are powerful words assigned to things, people and situations.
Based in our research, use the words Female and Woman with universality. They’re both respectful, comprehensive and acceptable.
Don’t use words that are slang, demeaning or otherwise disrespectful (however well intended, they’re still the poor choices). Examples of what not to use in relation to women and beer: Girls (under 12), Babes (sexualized), Broads (rough and crass), Babies (infantilization), Chick (farm animal).
This facet is extremely straight forward. The irony here is that many women assign poor word choices to themselves, thereby perpetuating the green light for others to call them that. If you are a woman who is doing this, look outside and beyond your own self to see what these terms do to keep women down.
You don’t hear about men’s groups related to beer using slang like dicks, well hung, boys or cocks. Seriously – think about it first. Think about the label being assigned to your mom or daughter. Is it appropriate now?
Here’s what’s good about it:
Here’s what’s still off about it:
The majority of the population on the planet are female. Women directly and indirectly affect fully 80% of purchasing decisions. In all categories.
If you want to build market share in any business, good or service, wake up and smell the beer. Ask women what they want before you assume or put your own opinions on them with out asking them first. Seriously, how is this not obvious??
**Hundreds of female consumers all across the country share they do not want products marketed to them in the color pink. They state clearly in research focus groups that the use of pink is effective and appropriate for those brands that already own it: Barbie, Breast Cancer, and Victoria Secret.
If you’re a brewpub, multi-tap, bar or restaurant, here are 5 ways to sell more beer to women.
1. Sincere Greet. Every time you see a female patron be sure to greet her genuinely and with appropriate enthusiasm. Nothing fake or forced. Simply genuine we’re-glad-you’re-here professional manners. Knowing right from the start that she is wanted and welcome is the key.
2. Respect. Make sure you treat her with respect every time. Ask if she’s been to your place before and if she has – thank her and refresh her knowledge as it fits. If she’s visiting for the first time, make sure you give a brief and concise overview of who you are and what you offer. This is a great thing to cover at a pre-shift/staff meeting to help staff become comfortable and competent with this information.
3. Timeliness. Ensure your service is well run and people get their beers and perhaps other ordered items in a very timely manner. Short staffed? NEVER tell people you are understaffed. You are telling them bluntly that you can’t handle what you’ve started and that’s bad. You best have Plan B in place to ensure proper levels of service. You’ve put lots of care and passion into your beer: this is not the place to scrimp and fall short.
4. Keep It Clean. Your establishment should be clean from stem to stern. She should be able to look in corners and see no dirt or grim, spilled foods or dripped pools of liquids of any sort. Cleanliness is the gateway to success and it’s one of the first and most obvious things noticeable by everyone who comes through your door. Your pride should be evident in the clean environment you provide.
5. Ask her what she wants. Make the assumption she knows what she’s ordering, what she likes, and let her lead. Train the people who work in your establishment, including yourself, to find appropriate ways to help her with the decision process – at whatever stage her beer knowledge is.
Hats off to Sarah Hart today, the 2nd of two featured students who contact WEB per projects they are working on for classes. We laud the way these featured students contacted us and were respectful of time concerns. Frankly, I’d have loved to sit down over a beer with them – and hope to in the future.
We’re honored and humbled and welcome inquiries from students, consumers, press and media and others who are curious about WEB and how we’re making a difference in the female craft/beer consumer landscape.
I am a magazine journalism student at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Communications. I am originally from Alexandria, Virginia (about 10 min outside DC), [and] have now lived in Athens, GA for four years.
What does one year solidly dedicated to female consumers and their relationship with beer look like?
WEB just celebrated the 2+ year mark for the business and the 1+ year anniversary for WEB in one location. Here are some thoughts relating to what we’ve observed in this one small area of our remarkable country concerning women and beer.
1. Women are engaged, engaging and want to engage. Invite them in, ask them to join you, do so respectfully and appropriately.
2. Sexism has no place at any table. The T & A, tasteless, tactless, apparently funny to someone else who is a bigot/sexist/chauvinist (look up the definition people) ads should be beaten into the ground and used for compost (lots of fertile crap there anyway). We wouldn’t have to bring this up if it weren’t still disconcertingly true in some places and with some breweries.
3. Women like the beers they like, like to try beers of all kinds, and are doing so. Are you inviting them to do just that? Let them make their own decisions on what beers they want to try and decide they like. Toss out assumptions, preconceived notions, and stereotypes.
4. Women are equal players in the beer arena. Treat them as such you’ll see huge rewards – growth, sustainability of sales, and interest which will fuel all kinds of things which fuels…well, you see the cycle (hopefully).
5. There’s still much to do. With over half the population on the planet being female and with women making 80% of purchasing decisions (directly and indirectly), any brewery worth its wort needs to recognize and respect this. Ask yourself: Will you be able to realize your goals without truly and properly involving women?
Case in point: Women Enjoying Beer meet-ups in the last calendar year has offered over 40+ beers, paired with about that many different foods, in several different locations – all with much success. Don’t take my word for it – ask the women.
Part of the reason why is that sheer variety is exciting and worth pursuing. Think of how seasonal beers are the biggest category – it’s exactly like that. Don’t you like to try new and different beers? Then let them do that same on equal footing. Keep it interesting and they’ll keep coming. Keep it focused on them, and you’ve stuck gold.
There’s a world of women waiting for the breweries who do indeed see the value of their participation and support. What are you waiting for?
When the average woman says they don’t like beer, they overwhelmingly mean a few things, all along the same vein.
1. Most commonly: they don’t like the beers they’ve had previously. Bear in mind it could have been ‘bad’ keg beer at a high school or college party, beer that had gone bad through oxidation/other off flavor issues, beer that has a negative context – like they drank to much of it and got sick and never want to see that beer again, or simply they don’t like the flavor the beer offers whether or not they realize it.
2. Another iteration: they say ‘I don’t like beer’ and they immediately follow it up with a ” except XY and Z.” So they really do like very specific kinds of beer. They unfortunately lump all beer into the same beer with a capital B together.
3. Some simply don’t like what they’ve had, and are absolutely not interested. So let it go. Pushing them into something they already have a negative image of won’t help anyone. Find out what they do enjoy instead (with or without alcohol).
Here’s what you can do about it. When that phrase exits their mouths, ask them – very non threateningly or accusingly – what they mean? Do they mean they haven’t enjoyed the beers they have had or one of the other scenarios list above in #1.
I was at a party just yesterday and this very thing happened. When I wear my WEB shirts, the conversation seems to start quite easily. People immediately feel compelled to comment and it’s more like a confession for some. I Like Beer. Or (leaning in) I Don’t Like Beer. The important thing to keep in mind is the entry into the topic.
The host flatly stated she didn’t like beer…but….and proceeded to unknowingly correct herself. It’d be like someone saying I don’t like wearing shorts…but on a hot day I like short pants/long shorts/a skirt/a kilt. It’s up to you to decipher and offer an appealing direction.
Find out what kinds of beers they do like, or wines they like, or foods they like and then put your head to matching flavors. So many people like coffee and chocolate that this entrance (into the stout direction) is almost a gimme.
So next time you hear that phrase come out of a woman’s mouth, or man’s for that matter, chase it diplomatically and curiously. When you do it with respect and perhaps suggest, as appropriate, you can make progress.
Pay attention to titles, labels, and identifiers.
It’s important. Women in focus groups all over America indicate they prefer no titles – no Mrs., no Ms., no Miss. Woman say to simply use their names.
If you don’t know their names or choose to mind your p’s and q’s and need to group them, call them ‘females’ and ‘women.’ ‘Ladies’ is okay, although it’s split input here – some are fine with it and some are not. What you don’t want to do with ‘ladies’ is have a ‘ladies night.’
Why not? Think sleazy ladies nights events of days gone by, bad bars in college that had ladies night. What did those nights have a lot of? Trolling men the women didn’t want hitting on them. If you’re going to do a women’s/females/ladies event, do it only of that one gender. The dynamic of a single gender event is remarkable in its own right, whether it be for only women or only men.
What matters is how the consumer wants to be addressed; not what you think is clever, what you’re comfortable with or what other people put on them. Those in the industry and those who are raving fans of using ‘girls’, ‘chicks’ or other slang aren’t pushing progress. Yes, it’s fine to call a female friend a girl in private. What you have to be aware and cognizant and thoughtful of is the perception of others and how they interpret the title you choose.
If you choose Women or Females, you can be safely respectful and still be on target, not offending anyone. And that’s part of the import here.
Anyone in any industry needs to always keep in mind: they are not their consumer and therefore it does matter what you call your customers or fans, regardless of what you – the one in the industry – think. Let the jargon and personal feelings go, and ask and respect what women want.
While we’re at it, are women males? Then don’t call them ‘guys’ either. Yes, it’s casual mostly accepted slang. Just because we’re used to it doesn’t make it right. At one time in this country we had separate entrances for blacks and whites. That was accepted and still wasn’t right either.
And no, we’re not being over dramatic. Is pay equal for women and men in this country? No – and until you can connect the dots that it ALL matters, titles and labels and we address one another will make a difference. It’s up to you to decide which kind of difference you are going to make and the progress or stagnation you are going to foster.
Set the pace. Call women what they want to be called, with respect and do it all the time.
Small Things Matter. In fact the ‘small ‘things aren’t small at all. They’re big.
Do you pay attention to the details? Details are like the bricks in a wall. If any of them are missing, you notice a hole. And holes are bad. Treat all the factors, whether they be big sections of the brick wall or one brick items, with equal importance.
Here are some things to look at and examine (and repair if needed) for your beer businesses.
There are myriad ways to evaluate and ensure the female beer enthusiast is welcomed genuinely and specifically. Get a crew together to take a comprehensive look at your establishment. To make sure it’s worthwhile (dollars, time, and resources) be sure to look at it from the consumer lens.
Better yet, have someone with good judgement in the business contact a few people the rest of the staff does not know to engage in the experience and report back (otherwise known as ‘mystery shopping’). It’s an enormously valuable and useful and timely tool. You get the feedback and you can change things right now.
Small things impact women pre-purchase and therefore impact the purchase. The details – and big things – impact them during and after the purchase too.
Part of this redundant mantra, is Ask The Woman What She Wants. It’s a sign of strength to ask for help. And help you, the women will certainly do.
By the way, treating them to a beer for their feedback is a nice and appropriate way to thank them…
What would Aretha drink if she based her beer choices on respect?
Personally, I have no idea if she partakes of a tasty beer now and then. What I do want to connect here is respect to beer. Beer to respect.
In conducting research on marketing beer to women, over and over and over I hear that the market segment, women here, want some respect.
And why not?! Women make up 50.9% of the population.
Historically, it’s been women women women who brew beer. It’s still true in most other parts of the world (sans America). It’s a household task (careful – I’m most certainly not equating housework with women here). It simply falls into the duty breakdown.
So where the heck did the idea come from that women don’t like or want to drink beer? Why aren’t they a much more respected market share?
Probably several reasons. I’m not an historian, like my friend Maureen is, so I’ll forgo that for now.
What I want to point out today is that when you respect your existing and potential clients, all of them – women included – and you respect your beer, then you’ve got a winning, profitable combination. (If this sounds like a no brainer, why aren’t more breweries already successfully marketing to women??)
RESPECT. Treat them both ala the golden rule. And you will reign supreme.
I believe a good label to be worth it’s weight in gold (or healthy dollars anyway).
So while I like what Christina Perozzi is doing, I don’t like the label “chick” for females and marketing to them/for them/about them. It sends the wrong message, whether intended that way or not.
My research shows over and over (as well as other well documented research) that sexualized, slang, inappropriate labels are harmful. Not neutral – harmful.
Regardless of if it is meant humorously, it will more than likely be a not so great choice. Regardless if you call yourself a chick to your female friends, it makes me nervous – misconception is a hard thing to put asunder.
Authenticity is critical – for selling your brand, for getting buy in and buyers, and for being true to accuracy.
I’m not talking censorship – I’m talking respectfulness, I’m talking about good taste good taste.
Respect your audience. All of them – even the ones you incidentally touch.
Photo courtesy of Flickr by pt