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Pink packaging for beers aimed at women

Globally, retail volume sales of beer rose by 2% in 2011, marking something of a recovery following flat sales in 2009 and 2010. However, the situation may vary from country to country. In 2011, US beer volumes declined for a third consecutive year, falling by 2% to 23.5 billion litres. Value sales grew by a mere 1% to just over US$86 billion. Brewers have been able to maintain value sales growth despite volume declines through a focus on premium products and increases in unit price.

At the same time, rising health awareness is leading to a shift towards lower ABV products, like wine, beer and cider. In terms of health claims, low calorie and low carbohydrate content are the primary trends driving such propositions, while attempts to promote functional attributes are still fairly sporadic, and products with such credentials account for only negligible volumes. However, such offerings seldom claim to promote health per se, but rather purport to moderate the negative effects of alcohol consumption. These products primarily target female consumers.

The rise in female employment, coupled with higher wages for women, has had a significant impact on purchasing power and spending habits, allowing women more discretionary income to spend on non-essentials or luxuries for their own personal wellbeing.

The recession, along with stronger female financial independence and stronger health awareness, has focused the attention of beer manufacturers on women. Beer taste and low carbohydrate content have not been the only features that manufacturers have considered as packaging is also starting to play a crucial role in this new positioning. However, this has led to questions being asked as to whether pink beer packaging has sexist implications?

One example of this female targeting is Chick Beer, launched in the US in the second half of 2011 by Chick Brewery Co. Chick Beer contains only 97 calories has a carbohydrate content of 3.5g per bottle and is a standard lager.

The packaging is more interesting. The carton multipack looks like a purse and the glass bottle itself like a black cocktail dress. The colour scheme is pink and black. And this, apparently, is a cause of controversy. The marketing campaign, company website and beer packaging all reflect a certain stereotype of women in pink and probably with long legs and blonde hair. This clearly female-targeted product is unlikely to appeal to most women. However, the company believes that it will find followers and has responded to the critics by claiming that the beer industry as such is sexist as there are not that many beers produced specifically for women.

The fact that more women are choosing to enter higher education has played a big part in the rise in female employment the world over. This has also helped to do away with the 'pink blonde' stereotype and raise the level of equality between men and women.

Thus, it would appear that a more considered approach is required when marketing products for women. Women have become a more prospective consumer group through which to regain lost value share due to the recession. Thus, it is expected that the range of products specifically targeted at women will increase in all fmcg categories over the forecast period.

Report by Euromonitor



1 April 2012 - Felicity Murray