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Hmmm... Beer...

I love football. I love the sound of a nice tackle, the thrill of a one-point game, and the interaction among the crew of ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown. Maybe I'm not the most stereotypical woman: I drive a manual transmission car, I don't enjoy cooking, I like power tools, I own boxing gloves, and I can quote The Simpsons. It's a good thing I don't believe in stereotypes. I know I'm not alone; there are a lot more women out there like me. But it doesn't seem that we've caught the attention of some marketers and advertisers.

With the football season comes an increased number of beer commercials. Last season was marked by the Coors Light twins - two blonde busty women in tight outfits. But Coors isn't alone. Miller Lite sparked controversy with its Catfight ad depicting two busty women ripping each other's clothes off and wrestling around in a water fountain and ending up in a mud pit. Michelob has gone the other way, with ads where a woman makes a romantic dinner for her boyfriend and slips into a slinky dress. But when he shows up at the door dressed like a slob, he doesn't notice the effort that she exerted, but only sees that she bought Michelob. Clearly these commercials are not targeted at my demographic.

The beer industry is one of the last dinosaurs to not change its marketing strategy to include women.
Beer companies should take a cue from Absolut’s ad that appeared in a Sex and the City episode targeted at women.
In 2000, beer sales only grew by 1%, according to the Beer Institute. With women accounting for over 50% of the US population, and only 25% of beer consumers, beer companies are beginning to realize the growth potential with women drinkers.

One company to take the lead with ads targeting women is Amstel Lite. This Belgium based beer company has produced You go, girl! ads such as one where a woman walks up to the bar where two men are sitting, orders an Amstel Lite, and proceeds to unscrew the bottle with her teeth and spit the cap across the bar. TV spots such as these have worked for Amstel, with 45% of its consumers being women and a volume increase of 13% in the year 2000. Australia's Fosters beer has also been successful with ads such as the TV spot depicting a young couple on a date in a nice restaurant. In order to impress her date, the woman crushes a Fosters beer can on her forehead. Commercials like these help to break down the stereotypes of beer drinkers, and at the same time, poke a little fun at them.

But other beer companies, especially those based in North America, have been resistant to targeting women. The fear is that they will alienate their strong primary consumer base: men between the ages of 21 and 30. Companies need to find a way to attract men and women, without being perceived as a girly beer. In order to not isolate women, beer companies must either make some of their commercials appealing to both sexes, or create ads specifically targeting women. What they do not want to do is continue on the path of big-busted women bouncing around or men completely ignoring women. Companies that objectify women and debase men do not appeal to my wallet.

So what do women want to see? Well, just as women are diverse, opinions also differ on the matter. In general, women do not enjoy viewing commercials that depict negativity or cruelty, even if the ad is supposed to be humorous, according to the TrendSite Group (a website helping companies tap into the buying power of women). Furthermore, women like to know what they'll be getting for their money, not just out the image that goes with the product. Some beer companies have caught on, and are stressing their beer with fewer calories. For example, Michelob has begun to target their Michelob Ultra Lite towards women who want beer but not the carbohydrates.

Beer companies should take a lesson from the automotive industry. Companies such as Ford and GM not only market their products specifically to women, but also design and package their automobiles with women in mind. Automotive companies realize that women purchase or lease 52.5% of all new vehicles, while men tend to purchase used cars (Woman Motorist). Armed with this knowledge, the auto industry better understands their market. Advertisements are targeted at all types of women. Therefore, auto companies have learned to think outside the stereotype and depict women in commercials as the racecar driver or the mother.

The beer industry should know that the pay-off in attracting women is great. According to the TrendSite Group, women tend to be loyal to a brand; they develop a relationship with the product and the company, resulting in a high level of retention. This results in a higher value for each marketing dollar spent. Furthermore, word of mouth is greater among women. Women ask advice and opinions of friends when deciding on a purchase. When a woman has found a product she particularly enjoys, she passes this information along to other women. Sited in a Federal Reserve study, women now own 51.3% of the private wealth in the US, and women make or influence the purchase of more than 80% of all services and products. The beer industry should take note; women have money to spend and an increasing number of women enjoy drinking beer.

By now the beer industry should know that they will be unable to please everyone with their commercials. They have to decide which groups to target, and women should be included in that market segment. I would love to be able to turn the television on to watch a football game and not see a beer commercial that is demeaning to men or women. Maybe I can't relate to a woman unscrewing a beer bottle with her teeth, but at least it'll make me laugh.

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