Women, errr, Wenches & Beer, a Continuing Study

Over at her own site, my new protégé/assistant/social media tutor, the inescapable Beer Wench, has declared war on a new U.K. brew – let’s not call it beer, okay? – being developed specifically for women by MolsonCoors and something called the Bittersweet Partnership. She don’t like it one bit, do the Wench.

To her great credit, Ashley, as the Wench is known in certain circles, has rattled a few cages with her post and prompted much discussion, including multiple responses from someone named Kristy McCready of the Bittersweet Partnership and one early reply from yours truly.

Reading through it all, I find most of the comments, although certainly well-intentioned, do tend towards the invective, and while I am certainly sympathetic to the sentiments expressed by many of the posters, including the Wench, I also feel that a certain balance is lacking. And so, rather than continue one with the ever-growing list of comments at her site, I thought I’d cross-link here and add a little moderation to the debate, to wit:

  • I am no great fan of Coors Light or Molson Canadian, the two brands Ashley uses to illustrate her post, but neither should they be dismissed out-of-hand. They appeal to a big piece of the market, one which – contrary to what Ashley maintains – really does not care about what they put in their mouths. Or so dislikes the taste of conventional beer that they look for a brand with as little flavour as possible. (This has been shown true in beer market research, with most beer drinkers admitting to enjoying the social lubricant side of beer more than the actual taste.) Whether people dislike the taste of beer because of how companies like MolsonCoors have evolved it or companies like MolsonCoors have taken the taste of their brands in a given direction because that is what the consumer wants, well, that’s a chicken-and-egg argument we’ll never resolve.
  • The new beer proposed by Bittersweet and MolsonCoors is a marketing endeavour seeking to address a demographic they currently see as being underserved, or not served at all. That’s what companies their size do. If their market data showed that the demographic they’re wanting to exploit desired an Imperial stout or IPA, you can bet that’s what they’d be brewing.
  • That said, this experiment will most likely fail, as do most of the new brands the big brewers come out with. Occasionally one will stick around for a while and make a ton of cash for the company – hello, Bud Light Lime – but for the most part, new product launches spike and decline with astonishing speed. Speaking of which, anyone had a dry or ice beer lately?
  • This is deviating from the topic a bit, but having just recently spent a day in the British brewing town of Burton-on-Trent, I can say that MolsonCoors deserve credit on two counts – the development and spring opening of the National Brewery Centre on the grounds of their brewery and the relaunch and promotion of the White Shield Brewery. The former is a move no doubt contrived at least in part to reverse the horrible press the company received when it closed the old Bass Brewing Museum/Coors Visitors Centre a couple of years back, but the latter comes because MolsonCoors sees a growing market for bottle-conditioned and cask-conditioned ale, just as they and Bittersweet see an opportunity in the young female market.
  • And so, to close, this new beer launch is no more an attack on women than the reams and reels of beer advertising directed at males, portraying them as jocks and morons, is an attack on men. Which is to say, as insulting as it may be to those of us with senses of social responsibility, fairness and taste, both exist because they works.

Oh, and one final note, what’s the difference between drinking PBR, as I’ve seen so many craft beer industry types do, and drinking Canadian or Carling or Coors Light? Answer: nothing at all!

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2 Comments

Filed under beer advertising, beer blogs, beer industry, beer news, drinking quality, social commentary, The Beer Wench reports

2 responses to “Women, errr, Wenches & Beer, a Continuing Study

  1. Pingback: Appellation Beer: Beer From a Good Home » Blog Archive » 18April2010: Beer linkorama

  2. Well put, Stephen! Whereas I completely agree with your comments, it doesn’t mean I have to like that this is the “state of the industry.” It frustrates me that there are people in this world that don’t care what they put into their mouths — the ingredients, where it came from, how it was made etc…

    Garrett Oliver put it best “All food trends are moving in only one direction – away from the industrial and towards the flavorful and artisanal. What exactly makes you think that beer is any different? In the face of overwhelming evidence? But instead of going out and teaching people about great beer matched with great food, the industrial brewers attempt to see if they can get a bounce in the next quarter’s stock price. And maybe they will. Temporarily. But the fact remains that industrial brewers, through their own actions, remain the proverbial frog in the pot on the stove. The water’s getting hotter. You might want to think about jumping.”

    Enough said.

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