Recently Thrillist published an article entitled 6 Dirty Lies Men Spread About Women and Beer. The article addresses some widely circulated myths about why women don’t drink craft beer, but most of the myth dispelling was based on anecdotal information. I am not here to be the fun police, I fully realize the tone of the article was meant to be tongue in cheek and sarcastic. While entertaining the article inspired me to dig deeper into what data can tell us about how women are engaging with the craft beer industry. Also, I love how good data can help build solid brand strategies.
For many years beer has been perceived as a male beverage, and for good reason: in 2013 men made up 71.9% of craft beer consumers. For large production and craft breweries this is a significant number and the marketing directly reflects efforts to capture their dollars. What does that mean? The industry has beers with names like Thong Dropper, Kilt Lifter, and Tramp Stamp and print and TV ads feature scantily dressed women serving up beers to men watching sports. My point is not that craft beer is a gendered product (whole different post), my point is that no one is engaging the female craft beer drinker.
This lack of interest is a little shocking considering the recent data that was presented at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival. The Brewers Association highlighted an interesting demographic shift: females age 21-34 represent 15% of total craft beer consumers AND are drinking more craft beer than the national average. While the total number of female consumers is still less than males at 25% these numbers illustrate that women are actively seeking out craft beers and want to be engaged in the community.
Another perpetuated myth is women don’t like the flavors in craft beers, specifically hop-heavy varieties. It has been proven in a number of studies that women can taste and identify more complex flavor profiles than men. In fact taste researcher Linda Bartoshuk coined the term supertaster to describe individuals who experience flavors with higher intensity. Through her research she found that typically women are more likely to be supertasters than men. Taking this information into account women might not be the biggest fans of strong bitterness or hop flavors in beers, but they might love to try a well balanced lager as an introduction to the craft beer world. Instead though women are generally marketed “beers” that contain some sort of intensely sweet flavoring, like raspberry or lime, or some sort of low calorie “skinny” option. Let me be the first to say I do not mind a good fruit beer, I recently had a blood orange IPA that I still dream about, but give me a fruit beer that is balanced in flavor, sweetness, and body.
This type of market apathy for a significantly growing segment of craft beer drinkers can leave women feeling alienated. My hope, and hunch, is that as the female demographic of the craft beer industry continues to grow it will challenge breweries to reevaluate their branding strategies and audience engagement. This is not to say that a entirely new women’s marketing strategy should be implemented, please don’t start serving me beers that have a pink label and swirly script, I think the key for future success and growth as an industry lies in collaboration.
Want to know what beers I’m drinking? FInd me on Untappd under heygirlhill