Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Animee and a beer for women - a lesson in product targeting and gender neutrality

In a week when Adnams was voted into the list of the UK’s coolest brands I thought it only right that I dedicate this week’s column to the subject of beer. This is not a shameful attempt to solicit free samples from those fine local producers Woodfordes, Greene King and Adnams but a genuine interest in the closure of a beer brand.

Before any female readers turn the page, this column is also all about you! A question to start with then. How many of my female readers have heard of the beer brand Animee? Any of you with your hands up I will ask the question did you actually try it? Animee was actually a brand of beer created by Molson Coors designed specifically for women. It was launched last July and backed by a £2 million ad campaign specifically targeting women. Fourteen months later the brand was pulled.

The reasons behind the launch were clear. According to recent research 77% of women say that they ‘never’ or ‘very seldom’ drink beer with only 13% of beer serves in the UK attributed to women. You can compare that to 33% in the Republic of Ireland and 44% in Spain. So in a market that has suffered from falling sales at public houses and the growth of home drinking fuelled by supermarket price promotion sales, any growth opportunity has to be explored.

Of course by saying that this beer is for women you immediately make the statement that it’s not for men who make up the vast proportion of beer consumption in the UK. Likewise, by creating a brand that is particular to the smaller purchasing segment, it has to work very hard to make inroads in that segment and will not attract sales from the bigger consuming segment i.e. men. Suddenly the £2 million marketing budget does not seem that big.

Interestingly it seems that beers that take a non-gender approach to branding and marketing have managed to attract a following. Peroni, for example, reports that it has a strong female following and attributes it to its brand positioning of Italian cool versus lads down the pub. Molson Coors themselves as part of the announcement of closure noted that its own brands Coors Light and Carling Zest attracted a higher proportion of women drinkers without even trying because they were gender neutral in their advertising. In the case of both Peroni and Zest the advertising included both men and women and was more aspirational and inclusive than for example the Carlsburg “Probably….” campaigns which perfectly targets its chosen market demographic.

So will this current failure mean that brewers will stop scratching their heads coming up with beers targeted at women, probably not. I suspect though that the lessons being learnt that creating a beer that is brewed and marketed as being great for both sexes might be.

Tim Youngman is head of digital marketing for Archant follow him on Twitter @timyoungman

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