Women in America determine between 75 – 85% of all purchases, and that includes beer – ignore us at your peril.
As a woman who
enjoys loves craft beer, I took some time to think back to my beginnings as a beer drinker and how I’d gotten to the point where I refuse to drink anything but craft beer. I realize that I am now an extreme outlier when it comes to beer drinker demographics, but I do know a thing or two about marketing and how to help attract and engage more of that key craft beer audience: The female craft beer drinker.
Before I get started, I feel the need to offer a disclaimer about my own experiences. I am not an ultra-feminist and don’t get my panties in a wad when a man opens a door for me. Because of my love of craft beer, I have taken all negative incidences with a grain of salt, using these experiences to educate and offer a differing perspective. With that said, let’s get started…
Firstly, Please don’t dumb beer down for women
Don’t bother with cutesy names that are “girly” or trying to reach women by adding pastel colors to your ads. The truth is, women prefer gender neutral advertising. And while there is some possible evidence that women may gravitate to certain styles of beer over others, don’t let that fool you into thinking you should make beer just for chicks – honestly, it feels hokey and somewhat condescending.
( I guess I just put the “She Beverage” company on blast #sorrynotsorry – Plenty more lovely examples exist)
Stay true to your brand and create great beer. You won’t be able to please everyone, so don’t bother trying. Besides, targeting only women eliminates a huge segment of the market — MEN! Instead, educate people (not just women) about the ingredients, the taste, the quality of your beer and your brand’s story. Keep your message consistent and we women will seek to learn more.
Keep the skank bait to a minimum
What the hell is skank bait? This is the typical old school beer marketing methodology. Throw a few scantily clad women in a beer ad and watch the money roll in. While this isn’t as big of a problem in the craft beer space, it still totally happens. I’ve seen photos on brewery social media of things like women engaging in some sort of beer wet t-shirt competition, a woman holding a taster glass in her cleavage, and plenty of other shenanigans. This might get you a bit of fun conversation, but to most women and even some men, that just makes the brewery look trashy. Some may tell you so, but most will remain quiet and decide not to patronize your business.
pro-tip: Men aren’t the only ones distracted by boobs. If you want people to focus on your product, make it the focus.
Train your staff to not talk down to women (or men)
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been talked to like I am a half-wit when I visit a brewery or go on a brewery tour. Although the frequency has thankfully dropped over time, it still happens on occasion. I’m not one of those jerks who walks into a brewery and starts throwing out big words like “saccharification rest” so that I can sound like I know what I am talking about. But, I do enjoy learning about hops and malts used in my beer at times. What I don’t appreciate is when someone at the brewery feels the need to be short with me or speak to me condescendingly when I ask a question (and no I am not ultra-sensitive). Your staff should be knowledgeable, approachable, and when asked questions, they should seek to educate and engage customers vs. having a beer-knowledge pissing contest. Being respectful of time, taking a few minutes to educate a customer has the huge upside of possibly developing a loyal customer and is a worthwhile investment.
Offer women opportunities to learn
I used to attend a women’s beer tasting group that I fully enjoyed. The brewery that held these events had themes around styles and they would bring in various beers from that style. While we tasted, the brewmaster would tell us all about each beer, it’s history and how it was made – never sparing us the industry terminology for fear of us not understanding. Instead, when something was said that wasn’t understood we were allowed to ask questions and most importantly learn through immersion. I was honestly amazed at some of the questions being asked by fellow attendees – though simple in nature, many questions were really thought-provoking.
My favorite was a night of tasting sours and learning all about horse-blanket and the old world methods vs. kettle sours. I think the draw to this event was women being able to taste beer and ask what may even be seen as “dumb questions” in a non-intimidating environment. While I would like to posture as if women don’t get intimidated by male-driven industries, but most of us would rather spare our pride at the risk of sounding dumb. Think about why women-only gyms are so successful – ladies like doing many of the same things men do, but when we feel intimidated in doing so, it’s no longer fun or appealing. So, try out some new ideas that include women or that may be women-only. Help them learn about your craft and watch as they become loyal to your brand.
Understand why women follow your brand and provide value to them
The biggest reason that women follow your brand is to learn about offers and discounts (and the same applies for men). As much as we wish that people followed us because they just adore us, that’s not the case. Help them adore you by rewarding your followers of both sexes with incentives and offers that add value to your social media presence.
Really that’s all – in a nutshell, just treat us ladies like we are capable of learning and enjoying craft beer just as much as (if not more than) you. There are a multitude of ways to market craft beer to women, and they really are mostly the same as they are for men. There are some generalities that can be applied when it comes to special events that you could try out, but on the whole, we really just want to be able to enjoy craft beer for its freshness and multitude of flavors and varieties.