Beer marketing shouldn’t exclude, alienate women

By Molly Keith

I love a good beer. It hits the spot. I’ll take it more than a Cosmopolitan any day. Despite the fact that I just recently turned 21, I like to consider myself a beer connoisseur. Ever since I can remember, my parents have brewed beer at our house. As a result of taste-testing and watching them brew, I have learned a lot about making beer and what makes it scrumptious. I’ve been told it’s a rarity to be a woman who has a palate for beer, but apparently, it might not be as rare as one might think.

In the U.S., women currently account for 25 percent of beer consumption, according to DrinkFocus.com, and that number is growing. It turns out I’m not the only gal digging this so-called man’s drink. “We have found that females often are more sensitive about the levels of flavor in beer. Women trained as tasters outshine their male counterparts,” said Barry Axcell, SABMiller’s chief brewer, in a June 2010 Wall Street Journal article.

For the beer industry, using the best beer-tasters is important. It ensures the beer tastes as it should. “Thirty percent of SABMiller’s advanced-level tasters are female, and the number of women tasters has roughly quadrupled in 10 years,” Axcell said. If studies are revealing that women are drinking more beer when they go out and are valuable for tasting beer, one would expect to see women around more in the beer culture.

I see a lot of women in this culture. They are usually in the background of beer advertisements, half-naked, either pawing at the chief character of the advertisement (usually a stunningly handsome bro), standing behind him subserviently or dancing seductively. Women are never the center of beer advertising in America. We aren’t spoken to. Instead, we are portrayed as flirty, dim-witted damsels, handing men a nice mug of beer while also serving as sex slaves. These advertisements say, “Men, drink this beer, and you’ll instantly gain a flat screen TV with the most satisfying football game playing and a hot chick to boot.”

I’m not naive. I know sex sells, and I know this is what a lot of men like to see, but what these beer advertisements are selling doesn’t appeal to women. They sure as hell don’t appeal to me.

I’m not seeing women in beer advertisements the way I want to or think is beneficial to the marketing of beer toward women. The beer industry is always thinking about money. Why not make more money by marketing beer to women as well as men? We are responsible for one-fourth of the beer consumption in America. That number would rise significantly if the beer industry would acknowledge that women also like to drink beer and use that to its advantage.

I’m not exactly sure what marketing beer to women would look like; I’m not an advertising manager. However, I do have some ideas that leave out cackling brosephs high-fiving one another with a beer in one hand and a scantily clad female in the other. Perhaps an image of a girls’ night out or interaction with men where women aren’t being pushed to the side or playing beach volleyball in skimpy clothes would work.

Women used to be associated with beer. It wasn’t just a man’s drink. A podcast from StuffMomNeverToldYou.com, titled “When did beer become a boy’s drink?” said, “In almost all ancient societies, beer was considered a gift from a goddess and never a male god.” Women dubbed “ale-wives” were responsible in the 1700s in Europe and America for making a large majority of the beer. Men and women enjoyed drinking beer together.

As the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century rolled around, male-only taverns started popping up, hence males drinking more and more beer with one another and alone. As a result, beer was considered a more manly drink, and a stigma was attached to a woman drinking beer. It was considered unladylike. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Even in the media these days, the only women I see drinking beer are the tomboy friends of a bunch of guys, playing a game of poker. I’m not a tomboy. I hate snakes and wear glitter eye shadow, but I do enjoy beer.

Listen, beer manufacturers, it’s time you start marketing to us women. Read the statistics. Look around you. Even blogs like ChicksLoveBeer.com, LadyBeerDrinkers.com and WomenEnjoyingBeer.com reflect women who drink beer. You will introduce them to drinking beer through your newly constructed advertisements and also be doing yourself a favor by making your business even more successful.

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