Branding, Distilleries, Marketing

Not all women want red lips and stilettos

Does your brand deliver the right message when marketing to women?

How to reach more women remains a hot focus in the booze industry. With nearly two-thirds of whiskey drinkers in the US being men, marketing to women taps into a new and potentially stronger demographic.

Earlier this year, author Fred Minnick asked a Bourbon Classic panel of male and female distillers how to market to women. He was quickly shot down with “you simply don’t.” Even the Filson’s Historical Society featured a spirits industry executive panel of women to get their take on the matter. The response was diplomatic with a consensus that sex shouldn’t be a point of differentiation in any industry. Period. Having that said, creating a product exclusively for women is widely frowned upon in the industry despite the success of Skinny Girl founder Bethany Frankel.

Should spirits brands shy away from pursuing a Skinny Girl-like product? The key to brand positioning like Skinny Girl shines in their ability to cater to a need. Skinny Girl works because it provides a solution for those that want to drink, but consume less calories. Their message works whether you’re male or female, despite the name.

woman bar tender

Marketing to women and creating a product for women are two completely different things, but they do share a similar starting point. Understanding your target customer. As a spirits brand, are you working hard enough to reach women the proper way? Are you taking the time to understand why your customer buys? Turns out that 91% of women feel that advertisers don’t understand them. Whether you are appealing to male or female, customer segmentation is all about the ‘why they buy.’ Understand the needs. Not all demographic needs are the same either. Be sure to appeal to all lifestyles when marketing to a single demographic and not just the stereotypes. In an overly saturated and highly competitive market, targeting to only one demographic is a big mistake. It limits scalability in a market place where most men buy.

For those of you interested in creating a product that targets women, here are a few starting points you need to consider.

  1. Are you using pink, purple, red lips, red stilettos, frosted packaging or “feminine” descriptions? When I see packaging like this, I tend to laugh (at, not with). Brands that try too hard feel forced or gimmicky and stand out in a bad way. Especially in the spirits industry where brand positioning is everything. With spirits meant for anyone over the age of 21, what is the value in creating a product for only one demographic? If appealing to a particular demographic is part of your mission, then it should embody an authentic purpose. Authenticity is built based on being straight with people and grows over time.
  2. Are you empowering your customer? One of the best ways to connect with a group is to empower them. For women, it starts with embracing what it means to be her. Check out this new Levi’s commercial with Alicia Keys. She begins with a genuine statement that all women are badass. Nicely done Alicia! Today women are badass. One-third of US firms have women as the majority owners. Women are looking for ways to make more thoughtful and meaningful decisions in all areas of their lives. Are you mindful to the needs of women today? Think about the behavioral choices that are causing them to interact with your brand.
  3. Is your loyalty program positioned to fulfill customer needs? Anyone can sell something once but do you have what it takes to sell it twice? Getting a customer to repurchase your product and grow into an advocate starts with brand experience. Lucky for us, the beverage industry is masterful at creating a plethora of memorable customer experiences from bottle to glass. When it comes to building brand loyalty, you may want to answer these three questions: What are all the touch points customers have when interacting with your brand or services? Are you using this experience to fully communicate the brand message? Are you creating an emotional connection that matters to your audience? Whatever the product, people purchase emotionally. A beverage from Starbucks is a prime example of building a masterful brand experience. From the aroma when you walk in, to the consistent flavor, packaging and service. Think about how you want your brand’s core messaging to align with the products you offer. If you think you have a specific segmentation for women, then keep in mind that women are multi-dimensional, put a lot of thought in their purchases and expect authenticity.

Whether or not they admit it, all spirits brands (discreetly) market to women. The key is in understanding customer behavior and the why behind the buy. Likewise, connecting with women or any other demographic should not be a linear process. What do you want your customer to feel when interacting with your brand or services? Is it sexy, badass, or empowered? Or maybe it’s carefree and alive. The last thing anyone needs is a clueless brand attempting to appeal through stereotypes.

Image of Ellen Degeneres

Check out this hilarious video of Ellen making fun of a customized ink pen for women


Execuity is an unconventional marketing agency that is committed to helping clients achieve Total World Domination.

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