For the title of this month’s column, I’m borrowing a lyric from Beyoncé’s song “Run the World (Girls).” Last month, you might recall me talking about Campari America’s Women and Whiskies program. This month, I’m keeping the female theme going.
In what once was a male-dominated industry, the beverage world has been seeing some significant female players in the market over the past several years.
At our Beverage Forum in May, Muhtar Kent, chairman of the board and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, spoke to that point and highlighted the company’s Five by Twenty program, designed to empower 5 million women by 2020 within the Coca-Cola system. Kent said that putting women in leadership roles is “critical to our success” and says that there is a robust pipeline of women leaders within the company worldwide. He relayed that about 65 percent of shoppers are women and that there is a mismatch between who is shopping for products and the people behind those products.
One woman in particular comes to mind when discussing the importance of reaching the female consumer and tapping into her purchasing power. I had the pleasure of meeting Bethenny Frankel in New York City at the Skinnygirl Cocktails “Rocks the House” event in May where the Skinnygirl portfolio of RTD cocktails, flavored vodkas and wines were available to sample. Frankel, who created Skinnygirl Margarita and later sold the Skinnygirl cocktail brand to Beam Inc., has changed the RTD spirits business with the low-calorie offering—Skinnygirl is among the fastest growing brands in history, according to industry analysts.
Frankel told me that it’s consumer demand (particularly female demand) setting the pace of business and new product introductions. Over the past few months, Skinnygirl has introduced a portfolio of flavored vodkas and wines among other RTD cocktails. “Women want variety, they really do,” she said. “If they can’t have it in their men, they want it in their cocktails.”
That pace of innovation isn’t slowing either, she hints. While she couldn’t divulge what might be coming next, she could share this: “Expect the unexpected.”
The girl power continued in May with the first Speed Rack, a national cocktail competition sponsored by St-Germain, created by female bartenders for female bartenders with proceeds going toward breast cancer education, prevention and research. After a 10-city tour, the finals were held in New York City where 10 bartenders went head-to-head in a round-robin-style timed competition battling for the best-made cocktail—four randomly selected by the judges who included some spirits industry heavyweights: Julie Reiner, Audrey Saunders, Food Network’s “Chopped” judge Amanda Freitag and Dale DeGroff. New York City’s Yael Vengroff was crowned Miss Speed Rack USA.
Women also are becoming a driving force in the beer industry. Women Enjoying Beer is hosting its first Women + Beer Advance, slated for Aug. 2-4 in Medford, Ore., offering women an opportunity to learn more about beer and share their enthusiasm while hearing from women in the industry like Lisa Morrison “The Beer Goddess” and a scheduled appearance by Julia Herz of the Brewers Association.
‘Who run the world? Girls!’