The Best Kept Secret Growth Strategy for Beer

FILED JUNE 13, 2018

Dear Client:

As a child of the 80s, a few TV ads have stuck in my brain over the years:

-Riunite on ice, that's nice

-Paul Masson will sell no wine, before it's time

-Calgon take me away

-Miller Lite tastes great, less filling

But the one that really sticks in my mind is one of the first national TV ads which targeted working women with an empowering theme, and that was for a perfume called Enjoli, set to a blues-y refrain.

Money shot: "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you're a man... because I'm a woman, Enjoli."

While the ad may be viewed as mildly sexist and stereotypical among younger viewers today, at the time it was a big step forward for a brand directly marketing to the independent woman -- and, slyly, giving props to the man who loves her. (For really, really misogynistic vintage ads, click here>> ).

Of course the beer industry is no stranger to marketing that ranks from insulting to downright sexist to women. So it was refreshing that the Beer Institute invited noted author Bridget Brennan -- author of Why She Buys and CEO of Female Factor, a Chicago advisory firm which specializes in helping marketers engage women -- to speak at their annual meeting in Milwaukee yesterday.

So here are a few stats she presented that are eye-opening:

-Did you know that 40% of U.S. households with children include a woman who is the primary or sole breadwinner?

That to me is an astonishing data point. Nearly half of households with children are run by women who are also the ones with the primary paycheck.

-Women drive 70-80% of all purchasing decisions. "This makes for powerful math when building your customer base," says Bridgete. In other words, women don't just shop for themselves. They shop for everybody in their lives - spouse, children, in-laws, parents, friends, etc. "Women have primary caregiving responsibility for children and the elderly" and "typically assume responsibility for managing life's milestones, celebratory moments, and gift giving." That goes from birthdays, school events, health events weddings and engagements, new home and furnishing, all the way to funerals.

Bridget relayed the example of a homebuilder she worked with. When a couple viewed a model home, if the woman didn't like it, there's virtually 0% chance of making he sale.

-Here's one for you: 51% of all wealth in the U.S. is controlled by women. They may not hold many of the S&P 500 CEO spots, but they do control the money. And it's weird that 95% of S&P CEOs are male, but women account for 70 to 80% of their consumers. Go Maggie Timoney, new CEO of Heineken USA (which got a big applause).

-52% of all management, professional, and related occupations in the U.S. are held by women. Why is that? Education. I recall my own mother being a maverick for attending college in the 1960s. Today women earn 57% of college degrees, 59% of graduate degrees, and 53% of doctoral degrees.

-Women are now huge consumers of everything sports, from athleisure wear to yoga apparel to playing in leagues. Bridgete showed the iconic photo of the 1067 Boston Marathon, where the sole woman trying to run was physically forced off the course by the (event) organizers. WTF were they thinking? It was the culture of the times.

-Marketing to women isn't about excluding men. "It's not about excluding men, it's about excluding stereotypes," she says. Girls in pink tutus sipping tea while the men are playing football in the yard doesn't really fly today with most millennials. Millennials are about inclusiveness, and that includes gender.

-Women are running more small companies. "All you need is a computer and wifi," says Bridgete. The great equalizer. 40% of new entrepreneurs are women. 31% of all privately held companies are owned by women. And 35% of women working full time have "side hustle" jobs, compared to 28% of men.

-People think women don't like carbonation. Maybe that's why they don't like beer. Really? As Bridgete pointed out, all you have to do is look in a woman's fridge and see the sea of La Croix to know that's bogus.

-Women (and men) are getting married later in life. While in 1960 the average age of marriage for women was 20, today it's 27. Men too gained 7 years of "freedom", from age 23 in 1960 to 30 in 2017.

-Life stage more important than age. What this means is that women have more free time and disposable income when young. It also means that "life stage is more important than age." Bridget says she could walk in the lobby of the Pfister Hotel and find one 40 year old woman who just had her first baby, and walk across the room and find another 40 year old who is a grandmother.

-Health and wellness are replacing dieting, being skinny, and perceptions of beauty. Dieting is now eating clean, or being on a keto diet. Skinny is now being strong and fit. And beautiful means being confident, healthy, and natural.

-Women dominate social networks. In the old days, we celebrated the major milestones of life, like your first job, new car, new relationship, marriage, new home, baby.

Now young women celebrate "minor" moments, chronicling their lives like a self-made auto-biography on Instagram, Snap, Pinterest, and decreasingly, Facebook. They celebrate a friend-versary, concerts, new tat, ANY night out with friends (because "if you didn't post it, did it really happen?" as Bridgete quips). Baby gender reveal, bachelorette party, etc. You get the picture, literally. If it isn't 'grammable, it's not worth doing.

I could go on, and probably will in a future issue. But today's woman is soooo different than our mothers and even our older sisters. There still are innate gender differences in hour we are indoctrinated in our culture and therefore in how we generally behave, but women are much more powerful consumers and forces in the economy than even ten years ago. Function matters, but so does design. And while men generally value function over design, women value both equally.


Beer's little roll remains intact in the latest set of Nielsen numbers.

While overall beer category growth may have slowed just a tad in the latest set - beer volumes grew 2.1% for the four weeks to June 2, compared to the 2.6% growth seen in the last four weeks to May 26 - that 2.1% growth in the latest four weeks was enough to inch that YTD number a hair closer to positive territory, now down 0.6%. So that's positive momentum in our book.

Like weeks past every single segment outpaced its YTD trend in this latest set. And leading the way once again was cider, up 16.8%, and super premiums, up 14.8%.

Three of the brewers in this set achieved double-digit growth for the four weeks: Boston Beer, up 22.5%; Mike's, up 18.5%; and Constellation, up 11%.

After creeping into positive territory in the prior four weeks (to May 26), MillerCoors found itself back in the red for this four weeks, down 0.6%. A-B on the other hand remained in positive territory, but saw its growth slow, up 1.6% this set compared to 2% growth last set.

Speaking of A-B, they account for half of Nielsen's Top 10 Growth Brands this go round. There's Mich Ultra, of course; Natty Light; and three new product launches: Bud Light Orange, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold, and Bud Repeal Reserve Amber Lager.

The brewer with the second most brands in the Top 10 is Constellation with three: Corona Premier, Modelo Especial, and Corona Familiar.

SPEAKING OF CONSTELLATION, Wells Fargo released a bullish note on STZ upon the latest Nielsen numbers, noting how overall Corona velocity is below year ago levels. However, "our analysis suggests that the Familiar/Premier brands benefited from STZ's media campaign ahead of Memorial Day, as reflected in the brands' incremental $ share gains."

Total Corona velocities were up the 1-week period to 6/2 (albeit a very short time frame), per Wells Fargo, but were below YA trends. Wells Fargo believes this reflects broader distribution of the extensions (Familiar/Premier) as they continue to ramp.

Perhaps more importantly, Corona was up 0.5% retail dollar share in the recent period, "boosted by Corona Familiar/Premier ... and despite stronger pricing rel. to Michelob Ultra and the broader beer category." All in, the firm is optimistic that Corona's new brands "have the potential to be highly incremental to STZ" over the long term.

Until tomorrow,

Harry, Jenn, and Jordan

"If you don't make mistakes, you're not working on hard enough problems. And that's a big mistake." - Frank Wilczek

---------- Sell Day Calendar ----------

Today's Sell Day: 9
Sell days this month: 21
Sell days this month last year: 22
This month ends on a: Fri.
This month last year ended on a: Fri.
YTD sell days Over/Under: 0

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