“No one wants a pink beer, including ladies.”
Those were the words of Nick Fell, marketing director at the world’s second largest brewer, SABMiller, who was speaking at an event for drinks analysts in London this week to outline the company’s long-term strategy for tapping into the female market.
But that logic, which would seem obvious to most people, hasn’t stopped many other alcohol companies desperately trying to woo over females with some ill-fated “pink it and shrink it” attempts at for-her beers over the years (see below).
Women only make up a fifth of the beer drinking population throughout the world, which underlines the huge opportunity that remains unlocked for brewers. That stat is compounded by the fact that beer accounted for just 48.8% of alcohol consumed in the US last year, down from around 72% a decade ago.
In other words, half of everybody mostly isn’t drinking beer, and they’re future customers.
All the major brewers are hunting down new revenue streams right now, with the biggest companies in the alcohol sector including Diageo, Heineken, Carlsberg all reporting rocky results in their most recent financial quarters.
Something needs to change. Fast.
For its part, SABMiller is looking to create more flavorsome beers and develop marketing pushes that show beer as an accompaniment to distinctive occasions like BBQs and evening meals. But it’s an approach the brewer admitted to Marketing Week would take “up to 20 years” before it (and the rest of the industry) will manage to shift the image of beer amongst females.
Here’s a look at some examples of brewers who have tried (and some ultimately failed) to woo the ladies with their female-friendly beers:
Molson Coors stuck to stereotypical marketing tactics for the 2011 launch of its Animée brand: pink beer into the UK market.
The 4% ABV beer, named after the French word for “motivated”, was lightly sparkling and came in three variants: clear filtered, crisp rose and zesty lemon.
It was backed with a $US3.2m marketing push positioning the beer as a “real choice” for women and was also billed as being “bloat resistant.” The campaign featured glam-looking women pointing their heels as they sat atop Animée bottles and also included a sampling partnership with hair salon brand Toni & Guy.
Unfortunately, the cutesy approach wasn’t enough to shift the product off the shelves. Molson Coors axed the brand after just 12 months.
Carlsberg unveiled its “beer for beer haters” to the world in 2011. The “refreshingly different” beer was first tested in the Nordic markets before rolling out to new markets globally and was pitched as an alternative to white wine and champagne.
In a press release accompanying the launch Carlsberg said: “We can see that there are a number of consumers, especially women, who are very aware of design when they are choosing beverage products. There may be situations where they are standing in a bar and want their drinks to match their style. In this case, they may well reject a beer if the design does not appeal to them.”
And reject it they apparently did. Carlsberg tells us Copenhagen has been delisted globally.
In another Molson Coors attempt at winning over a female market, the brewer launched Carling Zest citrus beer to the UK market in 2012.
The 2.8% ABV beer was not said to be targeted at women specifically but instead was designed to appeal to “summer drinkers”, the company said, as it looked to position lager as an alternative to rose wines and ciders.
New flavour variants have since been added: Hint of Ginger and Hint of Winter Berries. The brand was supported with a major marketing campaign in 2013 that included TV, which demonstrates Molson Coors’ confidence in its success, and it is still in stores today.
Euromonitor data shows the brand sold 3.6 million litres of the drink in 2013, up from 1.2 million litres in 2012.
Bud Light Lime Ritas
Demand for traditional “light beer staples” like Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite is due to hit a 10-year low in 2015, according to Devin Leonard at Bloomberg Businessweek.
Forecasting that downward trend early, Anheuser-Busch launched its “Bud Light Lime Rita” range in 2012, which has since led to spin off flavour extensions such as Straw-Ber-Rita, Mang-O-Rita, Raz-Ber-Rita and most recently Apple-Ahhh-Rita . The company hoped the fruity beer-based margaritas in a can would appeal to women who don’t like the taste of heavy craft beer.
The gamble appears to have paid off. Sales of ‘Ritas hit $US462m last year, according to Chicago-based research company IRI.
Euromonitor says global volume sales of the entire Bud Light range reached 23 million litres in 2013, a massive leap from the 8.4 million litres sold in 2012.
Heinken launched its shandy-style low-alcohol and lemon beer Foster’s Radler in the UK in March 2013, backed by a £4million marketing campaign.
By 2014 the company said sales had topped 17 million bottles, fueling its decision to expand the range to include a new Lime and Ginger flavour and a non-alcohol variant.
Heinken adds the “moderation” beer category is growing in the UK by 62.4% year on year, and Radler the volume of Radler sold reached 4.2 million litres last year in the region, according to Euromonitor.
It appears there’s plenty of fuel left in the tank for this shandy. Heineken also sells Amstel, Gösser and Pelforth-branded versions of Radler in other European territories.