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Desperate Beer Brands Chase After Women

August 21, 2013

The big beer business is tough right now; in the developed world big beer brand volumes are in decline as populations age and drinkers shift their preferences to wine, spirits and more niche craft beers. This creates the big challenge for big beer; how do they grow volume?

In the UK, the brewers banded together this June to launch their own “Got Beer” campaign that celebrates the wonderfulness of the beer moment.

Elsewhere, brewers have tried to identify new consumer segments and create products to suit their tastes. The prime target for many, is women.

A-B has extended and refreshed its Bud Light line with Lime-A-Rita, (which sold more than a half million barrels in its first eight months), it followed that success with Straw-Ber-Rita.¬†These “ritas” were developed following the 2011 success of Bud Light Lime and the observation that light beer mixed with margaritas was already a popular.

Last year, Miller Coors started test marketing Coors Light Iced T, a citrus flavored blend of tea and beer with 4% alcohol, which followed the launch of Michelob Ultra 19th Hole Light Tea and Lemonade in 2011.

Over in Europe, Heineken who now has a target of driving 6% of its annual sales from new products, launched Radler– a blend of lemon soda and lager which is a popular drink served by barmen across Europe (“shandy” in the UK) and developed in the 1920s. In this year’s hot summer, Radler’s sales have outperformed beer and lager sales in Europe. Women aren’t targeted specifically in the brand’s advertising, but it’s certainly designed to appeal to female tastes, with a sweet citrus flavor and just 2% alcohol.

The brewers are trying very hard to respond to the liquor companies who’ve been hyper-aggressive in their new product development and focused on constantly bringing a myriad of exciting flavors to the market. It’s interesting to find an online foodie publication providing a “how too guide” for those looking to enhance/”hack” their Lime-A-Ritas, some of the options look much closer to high end cocktails, than a can of flavored beer.

While it appears that these latest innovations from the world’s leading beer brands are finding success in the market, they have 3 major challenges.

1. How do they mine a constant stream of interesting innovation?

2. How do they introduce more female-focused line extensions without altering the masculine perceptions of their core brands?

3. What do these line-extensions say about beer quality- in light of ever-increasing competition from craft brewers? 

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