The Wall Street Journal (UK) recently published an article online that slightly perturbed me. It was not the article itself that I found to be insulting. It was the content of the article that bothered me most.
Instead of trying to cleverly rewrite the article, I have decided to re-post the entire article in its original form – giving full credit to its author, Aaron O’Patrick. You can find it below my ramblings.
And so let the rambling begin …
I realize that I am an anomaly in the world of beer drinkers. The majority of women in this world prefer wine and spirits over beer. And when they drink beer, it is usually light beer. I have met very very few women who will drink and enjoy the bigger, fuller bodied styles of beers. They drink lagers – yes. Wheat beers – yes. Belgians – occasionally (especially the Lambics). Stouts or Porters – rarely. IPAs – almost never. Double IPAs and Barley Wines – forget about it.
One problem with women and beer is the lack of proper education. I truly believe more women would enjoy beer if they knew more about it. There is a beer for every taste. BUT people, in general, do not know enough about the different styles of beer to find out what they like. Educated consumers are more likely to purchase products. If they do not know about your product, they will have doubts about investing in it. This is why beer tastings are so crucial for brewers. People want to make confident purchases. If they get the opportunity to taste a product and learn about its nuances and how it is made – it will make them confident about investing in that product.
Most women (and men) never get the opportunity to taste multiple styles and brands of beer. Since they do not know about all the different varieties available, they are usually not confident enough to purchase one at random.
Another big issue with women and beer is misperception. Many women associate beer with beer bellies and guts. Beer = fat. As with all consumable pleasures, whether they be food or drink, anything consumed in excess can lead to excess fat. Enjoying beer in moderation, however, will not make a person gain 5 pounds in one night. Enjoying a surplus of beers every night for several weeks might. But so will cocktails – especially the artificial ones that are loaded with copious amounts of sugar and chemicals.
Of course, beer is not ideal for those who are on diets. BUT, I am the quintessential ANTI-dieter and think that diet restrictions are ridiculous and masochistic. Too me, self-deprivation borders on insanity. I would rather have some extra junk in the trunk and a spare tire on the stomach than deprive myself of the things that give me the most pleasure. What would be the point? No one wants a skinny, but starving and cranky wench – am i right?
Back to women and beer.
I have a theory.
There is a beer for everyone.
Even one for my sister, who does not drink any form of alcohol and thinks she hates beer. I guarantee I could find a beer she would like. And I guarantee that I can find a beer for every person out there. Want to challenge me? Well bring it on.
Maybe I should change my name to “The Beer Yenta.” My tagline could be “The Matchmaker of Beers.”
Matchmaker, matchmaker. Make me a match. Find me a find. Catch me a catch … Night after night in the dark I’m alone. So find me a beer of my own.
Anyways, let’s get back on track. Here is the article:
U.K. Brewers Try to Tap Women’s Market
Orange-Slice Garnishes, ‘Watered-Down Guinness’
August 15, 2008; Page B6
LONDON — Trying to halt a big decline in beer sales, some brewers in the U.K. are reaching out to a largely untapped group of customers: women.
Coors, the U.K. arm of Molson Coors Brewing Co., set up a unit code-named Eve this year to develop beer brands and marketing techniques appealing to women. The unit’s mission, the company says, is to create “a world where women love beer as much as they love shoes.”
|Diageo PLC (top); Greene King PLC.|
|U.K. beer makers are pushing to attract more female customers with brews like Guinness Red, which tastes sweeter and doesn’t have as strong an aroma as traditional Guinness.|
As part of the push, Coors recently began selling its Blue Moon label in London pubs. The beer, which hadn’t been available before in the U.K., is aimed at women with touches like serving it with an orange slice to accentuate its fruity taste. In the U.S., Blue Moon is mostly consumed by men, where it is also served with an orange slice. Coors is encouraging bar staffs in the U.K. to experiment with how they serve the slices. One pub coats the orange slices in brown sugar, says a Coors spokesman.
Coors, based in Denver and Montreal, aims to launch additional beers aimed at women in the next year or two, says Coors Chief Executive Mark Hunter.
Eve found that beer’s main competitors are wine and vodka, which both have become more popular with women in the past six years. A big reason is that women regard beer as fattening, Mr. Hunter says.
The beer industry made a mistake by neglecting half of the population, he says. “We’ve done something fundamentally wrong here.”
Greene King PLC, a 209-year-old brewer based in the east English county of Suffolk, launched a beer for women called St Edmunds in October. St Edmunds is stored colder than most beers, giving it a crisp taste that appeals to women, a spokeswoman says. She says the beer has been popular, but she declined to give figures.
The industry faces many hurdles. Persuading women to drink more beer has been tried elsewhere with little success. Research by brewers has found many women don’t like the smell and aftertaste of traditional beer.
It may be particularly tough in the U.K. Only 13% of U.K. women regularly buy beer, compared with 25% in the U.S., according to market researcher Taylor Nelson Sofres PLC.
And overall, beer sales fell about 4.5% in the second quarter to 7.85 million barrels from 8.22 million barrels in the second quarter a year earlier, according to the British Beer & Pub Association. That’s the least beer consumed on a daily basis since the Great Depression, the association said.
Beer sales are suffering because of a decline in the popularity of pubs, analysts say. Factors making this year particularly bad include a ban on smoking in pubs, the weakening economy and a cold start to the summer.
The decline is also big compared with consumption elsewhere. In the U.S., sales of beer rose 1.9% in the first half compared with a year ago, according to the Beer Institute, a trade group in Washington.
Even with the decline in consumption, the British government is concerned about alcohol-related illness and binge drinking — and brewers don’t want to run afoul of the government’s health emphasis in any new marketing campaigns. The Department of Health recently said it is considering tough new restrictions on the drinks industry. One option under consideration is requiring pubs to offer drinks in small glasses.
In targeting female drinkers, the beer industry also risks a backlash from its most loyal customers, men. Some brewers are trying to strike a delicate balance in promoting beers as “unisex” to try to attract female drinkers without losing male ones.
One beer that could appeal to women is Guinness Red, a beer introduced by drinks company Diageo PLC last year that tastes sweeter and doesn’t have as strong an aroma as traditional Guinness.
At O’Neill’s pub in central London, few women have tried Guinness Red because they don’t know it is different than the traditional version, says manager Frank Donlon. “Advertising would help explain that it’s like a watered-down Guinness,” he says. “A TV ad would be good.”
A Diageo spokesman says Guinness Red has been promoted through radio ads, billboards and in newspapers, but there isn’t national advertising because it isn’t available everywhere in Britain.
Others are trying marketing. London-based SABMiller PLC is planning an ad campaign to run in October for Peroni Nastro Azzurro, which will connect the beer to Italian culture, an effort to appeal to men and women, a spokeswoman says. Female drinkers account for 30% of Peroni drinkers, more than twice the industry average. Last year, Peroni sponsored London Fashion Week.
Still, even if more British women drink beer, it is unlikely that brewers can reverse the decline in beer sales, analysts say. “They don’t consume the volume — and that is crucial — that men do,” says Graham Page, an alcohol consultant at research company Nielsen Co.