Hey Beer: I’ve Got The Solution To Your Problem (Yes, You Have A Big One)

To all the beer pros out there: I’ve got the solution to your problem.

Before I get to it, I’ll identify your problem.

  • Problem: You’re only actively addressing less than 50% of the global population when you put together your marketing plans to sell your beer.
  • Problem: You’re not seeing what other retailers and businesses see right outside their own immediate world.
  • Problem: Active -ism’s are being intentionally practiced which repel enormously valuable market share & customers.

Here’s the Problem: You don’t know how to market beer to women.

Beer companies of all sizes have big problems: They don't know how to market to women.

Beer companies of all sizes have big problems: They don’t know how to market to women.

Yep, its true. And everyone’s got the fever.

And there are solutions everywhere!! I’m writing my first book to this end – a guide-book on How To Marketing Beer To Women, since so many, frankly, stink to high heaven at it.

Being in business means knowing what you’re getting into to a certain degree, its knowing you have a boatload to learn – all the time – about being successful & seeking the help you need. It’s knowing who the heck your market is BEFORE you sign the lease, hire staff, and open the doors.

Women are the worlds largest human population. Women make the vast majority of spending and financial decisions in the household (regardless of make up of members). And women like favor.

So – when you’re ready to solve the problem, starting with your business (yes, everyone has it – don’t think you’re immune), call me. I can help.

Women everywhere are waiting.

 

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Brought to Task

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.

You want equality? Don't call women 'girls.' They aren't.

You want equality? Don’t call women ‘girls.’ They aren’t.

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.

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What Needs To Change With Women’s Beer Group Names

This article is still very true.

And it makes me wonder when women and going to stop perpetuating and creating “clever” monikers for females beer affinity groups. Bad names do way more damage than they do good. Here’s some I’d strike from the list:

  • Pink Boots Society
  • Girls Pints Out
  • Pussy Cat Beer Guild
  • BABES

All of these are – perhaps well intended – and have intentionally chosen names for the groups that will only continue to hold women back. Education can’t be packed in a sexist wrapper and called good.

It’s absolutely mind-blowing when you consider they were created by women. What the heck do the men then think – “If she calls herself a girl/chick/babe/broad, then why can’t I?” And they’d be right. Double standards in public are a poor and stupid choice.

Cheers to smart women who are helping create progress - Ginger (c) with Krissy (l) and Rocky (r) of Snake River Brewing, Jackson WY - where they recently hosted a women + beer event

Cheers to smart women who are helping create progress – Ginger (c) with Krissy (l) and Rocky (r) of Snake River Brewing, Jackson WY – where they recently hosted a women + beer event

Correction of ills, overcoming everything from the female/male wage gap to prostitution, are all part of gender equity it’s a big picture issue. It’s global, local and everywhere we can and can’t possibly think of. It’s up to women mostly to stand up and say. Men, you need to speak up as well.

There is no room in my mind for any of these names to be related to beer. So let’s bring beer into the picture.

If beer’s been modernly perceived as a male drink of choice, and women want to get into it – great! They must do it with full respect to themselves. Cheekiness or being coy or clever with words isn’t helpful – again, it’s damaging and negates and reverses progress. Women are smarter than that. The days of going to university or college for women to find husbands should be dead. This behavior and thinking will never deliver full equity. Don’t be lazy and let this mindset persuade you into thinking it’s okay. It’s not okay.

A cheesecake type calendar is circulating in the beer world of females who work at breweries in seductive poses. Women, this isn’t helpful or cute or even good. It’s simply perpetuating that you are the sum of your boobs and legs, smiles and eyes. Be the sum of your brain cells and backbone, your fortitude and intelligence.

The kicker for me is that the women voluntarily featured in the calendar I know to be otherwise smart women. What broke down? Where was the idea that “this is cool!” when all it does is further objectify them instead. Missteps and selective ignorance and blinders to what’s right, especially intentional ones, need to become extinct where women and beer are concerned.

If we can change the way people think about two universal planetary things (Women + Beer) we can indeed change the world for the better. I’ve seen it. It’s possible and I’m going to stay at it.

Here’s the good news: It’s easy to encourage and make change happen. Stand up, speak up, be vigilant. Women and men everywhere are responsible for making equity and equality happen.

Here are some groups who do it right:

  • Ales 4 FemAles
  • Crafty Ladies
  • Fermenta
  • Women Enjoying Beer

They’re highlighting education to a population that has not been focused on or considered to enjoy beer. They’ve chosen names and titles which build up respect for women learning about beer, not breaking it down. It’s about education first to a powerful population they recognize are curious, deserve full respect, do a majority of buying in the USA and are fun to have around.

Are you part of the solution or problem?

FYI – If you read this and want to take issue, you better be prepared to tell me how these groups and titles truly encourage equality and equity. No ranting from a lopsided perspective allowed (no, I’m not being hypocritical).

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WEB & Olympics: In Case You Thought Respecting Women Didn’t Matter

Read this. It’s a perfect example of WHY Women Enjoying Beer is around.

Cheers to sharp woman, Ms. Zoe Smith, 2012 Olympian

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.

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Gender and Age Shouldn’t Matter for the Cicerone Program

There’s a line in the sand for marketing the successes of women and progress and then there’s the unnecessary advertisement of a women succeeding because she’s a woman.

Here’s one example. The well reputed Cicerone program, which I believe to be of very high value, has recently announced the successors of the recent round of Master Cicerone certification. To be sure, this high level achievement is notable for anyone to pass.

Why then did Cicerone choose to highlight the recent graduate as a female? It should be a ‘who cares what gender’ situation, especially in light of the fact that the beer community seems to think itself non sexist.

What color is her hair? How about her eyes? Should that be noted – that she is perhaps the first graduate to have a XYZ breed of dog too or is of a specific heritage that we feel we must bring to the surface?

Highlighting gender and age diminishes the true news here: successful attainment of a difficult goal hard won.

When you highlight something like this (gender, age) you unfortunately do everyone a disservice: you send the message that it’s important to point out that a woman can in fact attain this kind of progress. However well intended, it’s the wrong thing to do. It’s focused on gender as a “wow – she made it” instead of “wow – this person made it.” Focus on the brain and intelligence, not the plumbing.

Did they announce the first certified MC’s as “The First Men To Pass The Test”? I bet you a few beers they didn’t.

This post is not meant to malign the program. I like and respect Ray, founder of the program and endorse what’s he’s created. We’d be first in line to talk about the import of beer education for everyone. This time it includes the professionals too.

Point out the successes and leave gender out of it. We shouldn’t be caring about what gender is succeeding at beer. We should simply be nudging those forward who want the assistance and celebrating their wins with nary a gender reference in mind.

This pushes everyone back into the score keeping mode.

And unless age has any relevancy with success in this world that we are trying to constantly improve, negate the age reference “youngest”. It’s like you’re saying the longer you’ve been on the planet the more we should expect you to achieve in societies expected patterns. Pointing out age, whether it be young, old and everywhere in between, perpetuates the ridiculous focus that age has anything to do with success.

Let’s get over it and get on with it, shall we?

It’d be a good move for them to change the news on their page to simply highlight the latest graduate of the program.

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Did You Hear The One About The 3 Year Old Dressed Up As A Hooker?

Here’s the clip. Take a look then come back.

Shine the light: Sexism is Bad

If you have or had a 3 year old daughter, would you do this to her? This poor little girl has no comprehension of the bigger message it sends. You should be appalled, and if you’re not you should go in for a lobotomy. And the mom should do some community work in shelters for battered prostitutes or at an STD clinic.

WEB is exactly about culture shift. This case is an example of extraordinarily poor judgement by a mom. Shame on her – it’s not cute, it’s tragic and terribly ignorant and selfish.

Women help perpetuate this by doing it to themselves; perpetuating the myths that it’s ‘okay’ or desirable to focus on being sexy or that prostitution is sexy. It’s not. It’s degrading and no one wins.

The beer community best take note: when beer ads portray women as sex objects, you only help the degradation, rest assured. And the insultatory tone and so-off-base idea pisses women off.

Wake up everybody.

  • Women: don’t you dare think this is appropriate. We only allow ourselves to languish and not go forward – we go backwards. Want equal rights and equal pay? Then demand respect, make sure you don’t do something this stupid and short sighted. Get rid of the idea that sexy Halloween costumes are good for you or fun either – they’re not. If you think you have no other value beyond skin level, then find a strong woman to help you see the light.
  • Men: Do not put up with this. Make sure you are truly respecting the females in your world – whether you know them or not. Demand respect and removal of sexualized images from the beer world. It’s not the world I want to be part of yet it’s still there in the corners, certainly in some pockets more than others. And the craft community is far from guiltless here too.
  • Beer community: Wake up and change sexist labels and overtly sexual adult humor. It has no place in the family beverage that beer is and should be portrayed as. Do we not already have enough of an uphill battle??

Sexism is harmful, never funny nor cute. Pay attention, force respect and change. You owe it to every female you care about, including yourself.

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Comments from yesterdays "Chick Beer Backlash"

Yesterday we highlighted this beer and just some of the conversation it’s generating (read the comments).

Today we’re sharing a few that came straight to WEB (per our comment post).

  1. “Well said Ginger.  First of all, this seems like a very “dumbed-down” marketing approach towards women, and you’re spot-on with knowing your audience. Secondly, it’s just done in bad taste!  How can someone studying marketing towards women not realize that our aesthetics go far beyond hot pink and negligees…I know that was intended to look as a LBD [little black dress], but it’s obviously designed to look as lingerie. It just blows my mind that all of the well designed artistic packaging in Shazz’s mind doesn’t appeal towards women.  Does she really think women are so flat?  Look at Sierra, Anchor, Brooklyn, New Belgium, Founders, even Pabst! Wonderful design encompassing many different elements and principles of art…not curly cue letters and hot pink.”
  2. “Agree 100%! Chick beer? I’d hate the see what the male counterpart to that would be.”

What do YOU think?

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Another Example of "Still Not Getting It"

Recent email conversation:

“Ginger,
Thanks for the email! I appreciate your comment regarding women. In fact, our name comes from an often-quoted Egyptian proverb which reads “The mouth of the perfectly happy man is filled with beer.” For us, the reference to “man” is gender neutral. We have a huge affinity for the women of craft beer and have many, many female fans and colleagues, including some of the ladies from The Women of Craft Beer. We would like to have more women contributors to our site.
Our site is definitely not just for men 🙂 … it’s for anyone who loves craft beer.”

WEB’s research based reply:

“Hi so and so –
Appreciate the conversation.
Obviously you do what you want/choose to – it’s all well and good that it’s an ‘old saying – nonetheless, it’s exclusive; just as if the saying were “perfectly happy woman”. I can tell you (free insight) that to women, ‘men’ is not gender neutral this day and age, regardless of what you intend it to be. Ultimately it’s up to the consumer( not us) to decide what’s acceptable. WEB is a consumer research driven company hence a rethinking for many is in order to really attract and get to women via beer. Do with it what you wish.
I’d invite you to visit our site at your convenience to learn more about WEB and how we may be at your service.
Best to you – if you’ll be at GABF, please feel free to come by our booth. It’d be a treat to meet.
Cheers –
Ginger”

Yes, Houston, the beer community still has a big problem. Are you part of the problem (however unintended) or the solution?

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Reflections on 1 Years Worth of Women & Beer

Gearing up for the 2.10.11 Anniversary WEB event

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?

sign from the WEB event 2.11.10

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?

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Why Stories Like This Make Me Crazy

Read this. Then come back.

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

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

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

Women Enjoying Beer (Photo by Kate Parks)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Issue Is Not Gender

It’s opportunity. It’s beer equality.

If anyone thinks Women Enjoying Beer is sexist (like the comment from SirRon ala this post), I’d invite you to consider the following quote by Anna Quindlen.

“The perception was that the fight for equality was a war against men. But the battle was really against waste, the waste of talent, the waste to society, the waste of women who had certain gifts and goals and had to suppress both. The point was not to take over male terrain but to change it because it badly needed changing.”

Change is what we’re after here. Clear, sustainable, positive change.

Four Peaks Brewery in Tempe Arizona

Four Peaks Brewery in Tempe Arizona

After all, with 50.9% of the population being female, you’d be missing a the point of it being a huge opportunity.

Like an accomplished well respected brewer stated as well, if half the population is female and your organization does not reflect that, there’s an imbalance. Said another way, why would it be any other way but representative of the population?

Foster, encourage, educate, hire, entice, support, mentor, act.

Lots of women who talk to me tell me they are interested in getting into the beer business; they have no idea of how to go about it though. Why is that?

Women can certainly reach out more, ask more, inquire more.

And the beer community can do much more to find out why and change it to create a better gender balance. Another reason to consider actively pursuing this kind of goal is that the two genders have different and complementary skills. Round out a team by filling the ranks with adept and competent women and men.

In the bigger scheme of things, it helps society as a whole as well. And we all benefit from that, beer or no beer.

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