Spirit Brand’s Sweet Spot

Until recently, liquor has been one of a few categories of products that have unapologetically focused on marketing to men.  But that appears to be changing.  Distillers are creating flavored whiskies to lure women, who have a taste for sweeter drinks, into the category. 

This strategy seems to be working — flavored whiskies, such as honey, honey tea, maple and black cherry, were the fastest-growing spirits type in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2012, rising 154.8% to 94,000 cases. 

If targeting women is your goal, and changing the flavor is not always the answer, here are some other ways to attract women to your brand:

  1. Let women have fun with your brand.  Sauza Tequila’s summer campaign, “Make it with a Fireman,” featured firemen coming ‘to the rescue’ to provide women with tips on how to make the perfect margarita. It’s the same tongue-in-cheek tone as the Old Spice TV spots featuring Isaiah Mustafa (“The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”), notes USA Today and aims to be just over-the-top enough to let women know they’re in on the joke.
  2. Do the unexpected.  As part of positioning The Guinness Storehouse as The Friendliest Place on Earth for St. Patrick’s Day, the brand reached out to women — not viewed as the typical stout-drinking target audience  — through a  paid integration on the Ellen DeGeneres Show with Aer Lingus Vacation Store and Tourism Ireland.   
  3. Make drinking more accessible for women.  Forbes.com has dubbed women’s increasing fondness for liquor the “Mad Men phenomenon.”  Ten years ago it wasn’t commonplace for women to order whiskey; now, women are bolder about their drink choices and men find this new confidence sexy.  Teach women about the finer points of your brand and they’ll be more assured about ordering it.
  4. There’s more to targeting women than “Shrink and Pink.” Don’t dumb down your message just because you might be talking to an inexperienced drinker.  Commit to educating women and they’ll show their appreciation by ordering your brand and speaking your message for you.

Whichever way liquor brands appeal to women, be it through our sweet tooth or sex appeal, women’s changing tastes offer a wealth of opportunity to grow the category.  Cheers to that!

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