Beverage marketers are consistently targeting the female consumer. And why wouldn’t they? We are the ones with the most purchasing power, making the trips to the supermarket.
Whether it’s female-specific drinks like Chick Beer and Go Girl energy drink or an exclusive women-only group like Women & Whiskies, sponsored by Skyy Spirits (now Campari America), there’s much to be said for “girl power.” I’m not saying that pink packages and gimmick products that segregate female consumers from the mainstream market are appealing to me, but I understand the desire to tap into that audience.
I had an interesting conversation with a woman while touring Fuller’s Brewery in London this past November. During the tasting portion of the tour she whispered to me that she likes drinking beer, but wishes she could drink it in a nicer glass. She admitted that she often asks her husband to request a special glass for her when they are at a bar or restaurant because she’s too embarrassed to ask for one herself. My response to her was that different styles of beer do require different glassware and should be served that way. Our tour guide, also a female, got a snippet of our conversation and was happy to provide the woman with the proper—Fuller’s banded—glassware for the beer she tasted. I asked our guide if Fuller’s provides its on-premise accounts with appropriate stemware and if there were education programs in place. She said yes, and showed the group a selection of glasses and which beers should be served in them and why.
I wondered, why wasn’t that done to begin with? I don’t want it to sound like I’m criticizing the tour or our tour guide. It was informative, educational and well rounded. We got to see some of the old copper equipment dating back to the early 19th century through to the modern upgrades that help it produce 215,000 barrels a year. I had the opportunity to taste selections from Fuller’s Brewer’s Reserve, among them an oak aged ale matured in whisky cases for 800 days—not what would typically be considered a “female-friendly” beer, but it was a highlight for me.
But the glass that a cocktail, wine or beer is served in is notably important to consumers, which was made clear by that woman’s remark. So much so, it might even deter her from ordering a beer. Certainly, drinking is about the quality of the liquid, but it’s also about the experience and the mood. There’s something sexy about holding a champagne glass or sipping from a Bordeaux glass, and there is a reason why those beverages are served in those glasses—to highlight the beverage. When she said she wished she could drink out of nicer glass, I thought, “You’re right. That’s part of the fun, isn’t it?” Sometimes, it is about the glass.