Genderly Speaking
Gender-specific marketing, whether explicit or implied, lends itself easily to the beverage category
In any niche category, marketers are trying to capture certain consumers and eliminate other consumers. But why would some marketers consciously eliminate as many as 50 percent of potential consumers by marketing to just one gender? Those marketers would argue that a strong product in a gender-specific niche can be as effective as a broader market.
More new product introductions this year focused on women’s specific needs compared to men, according to Productscan Online. While gender marketing has become important for some new product launches and some already established beverages, gender-specific marketing really hasn’t grown more than gender-neutral positioning. An explanation for stability in gender-neutral marketing could be because many beverage categories see nearly equal consumption from men and women.  
Datamonitor, London, reports that men and women make up the consumption of soft drinks almost evenly, with men accounting for 50.7 percent and women 49.3 percent. Beer, cider and flavored alcohol beverages skew more toward men, with 71.8 percent of the category and women 28.2 percent. Spirits are slightly more even, with men constituting 58.4 percent and women 41.6 percent of consumption. Women do come out slightly ahead in wine consumption, with 52.5 percent and men at 47.5 percent.
Research from London-based Business Insights’ “Gender Marketing Strategies in Food and Drinks: Future Profit Opportunities, Best Practice and NPD,” published in July, shows that health drinks are marketed clearly toward a specific gender 3.7 percent of the time, which does not include implied gender targeting in advertising and marketing strategy. Business Insights’ research also shows that isotonics and energy producing drinks were gender-targeted 3.4 percent of the time, liqueurs and other alcohol drinks 3.4 percent of the time, bottled water 2.8 percent of the time, beer and ale 1.3 percent, and vegetable and vegetable-flavored drinks 1.3 percent.
Top gender-targeted categories such as meal replacements, diet foods, health drinks and energy drinks demonstrate that gender targeting works well for products with perceived health benefits. Business Insights says this is because: Healthy products tend to be marketed to woman; and men increasingly are becoming female friendly and are more interested in the health benefits of certain products. When industry executives in food and drinks from across Europe, Asia and North America were asked by Business Insights to rate categories in terms of which consumers they are biased toward, the response was that alcohol drinks were more targeted to males and healthy products were emphasized more at women.
Business Insights’ report proved a definite female bias within the food and drinks category among manufacturers. This is expected, given the bias toward female purchasing of consumer goods. However it runs counter to a perception within the broader marketing industry that there is a male bias. In fast-moving consumer goods, marketers broadly agree with the results of analysis of new product launches — that light bias toward one gender or gender neutrality is the norm, and that strong gender bias is much less common, the Gender Marketing Strategies report states.
In terms of specific gender marketing, beverages target a specific gender much more than food, but often many of these gender-accentuated beverages are extremely niche or novelty. Nevertheless, more new products are aimed at woman than for men. Thirteen of the Top 20 categories for female-targeted products are beverage categories, including health drinks, bottled waters, liqueurs and other alcohol drinks, isotonics and energy-producing beverages, vegetable and vegetable-flavored drinks and milk, non-dairy milk and yogurt drinks, all of which fall in the Top 10. Manufacturers are three times more likely to explicitly state that something is targeted at women than at men, suggesting that women are a more receptive market to products developed specifically for their gender, Business Insights reports.
Features of soft drinks and health drinks, such as single-serve sizes, healthful benefits and product innovation, make them more applicable to gender marketing. Health drinks and energy drinks, in particular, are often gender targeted because they are single-serve and are consumed by an individual, have specific benefits which tend to aid either males or females but rarely both, and can easily target a certain lifestyle. For example, Pink, a diet energy drink from Phoenix Global Group, Louisville, Ky., offers a citrus taste profile, low calories and carbs, less caffeine than normal energy drinks and female-oriented packaging, all appealing to female consumers. Pink also features Splenda as its sweetener, and is a pink liquid designed to stand out in cocktails.
In the category of energy drinks, where the target audience is 18 to 30 year old males, Trey Zoeller, McLain and Kyne Distillery Co., Bardstown, Ky., and Phoenix Global Group’s president, found that the growing number of female energy drink consumers were being ignored.  
 “Almost every female in the focus groups we conducted would ask for a diet or light and there weren’t any at that point,” Zoeller says. “And we noticed that the flavor profiles were all very male-oriented. The product make up and marketing were all focused on the 18 to 24 year old male. We decided instead of a product that would appeal to both sexes [we would] really target and find the most feminine packaging that we can. That’s why we decided that Pink would really sum up what we’re trying to do in regards to marketing it, making the taste profile, bringing down the caffeine level, bringing down the calorie and carbohydrate levels and just focusing it to women. We really just wanted to focus it on a woman’s lifestyle.”
This fall, Phoenix Global Group launched a new product with the Pink brand, Pink2O, Water for Women. Specifically fortified with vitamins and minerals essential to women’s health, Pink2O is calorie free, carbohydrate free, caffeine free, and is available in four natural flavors — Lemon-Lime, Berry, Watermelon and Peach.  
Top categories for gender targeting
Category % gender-targeted
Meal replacements and special diet foods 3.9%
Health drinks 3.7%
Isotonic, energy producing drinks 3.4%
Liqueurs and other alcoholic drinks 3.4%
Snack bars 3.4%
Bottled waters 2.8%
Cereals 1.9%
Beer and ale 1.3%
Vegetable and vegetable-flavored drinks 1.3%
Source: Business Insights’ “Gender Marketing Strategies in Food and Drinks: Future Profit Opportunities, Best Practice Innovation and NPD,” July 2005
Top 20 categories for female-targeted products
Category % female targeted
Miscellaneous Beverages 16.7%
Health Drinks 3.3%
Snack Bars 2.8%
Bottled Waters 2.5%
Meal Replacements & Special Diet Foods 2.4%
Liqueurs & Other Alcohol Drinks 2.2%
Isotonic, Energy Producing Beverages 2.1%
Cereals 1.6%
Vegetable & Vegetable Flavored Drinks 1.3%
Milk, Non-Dairy Milk & Yogurt Drinks 1.0%
Yogurt & Yogurt Imitations 0.9%
Fruits & Fruit Side Dishes 0.9%
Wine & Wine Coolers 0.9%
Candies, Chocolate 0.9%
Tea 0.8%
Beverage Mixes & Flavorings 0.8%
Beer & Ale 0.7%
Fruit & Fruit Flavored Drinks 0.7%
Dips & Salad Toppings 0.6%
Coffee 0.5%
Source: Business Insights’ “Gender Marketing Strategies in Food and Drinks: Future Profit
Opportunities, Best Practice Innovation and NPD,” July 2005
Zoeller knows the pluses and minuses of marketing to one gender. “I’ve talked to some people and they ask, ‘Why do you want to eliminate 50 percent of the population right away by making it specific to women?’” he explains. “Some women aren’t going to be interested in a product specifically marketed to them either. Others see this as a niche business, but encompassing women is quite a big niche. There are so many women’s interest organizations that we can get involved with like the National Breast Cancer Organization that we support and give a portion of our proceeds to with both products.”
Women’s walks and runs, charity events, sports teams, conferences and shows have all been opportunities for Pink products. Double A Beverage LLC, Boca Raton, Fla., produces W2O, a water for women, and markets it in similar venues as Pink, but Double A Beverage also markets itself as a woman-owned company. Its primary goal is to help women at a variety of levels whether through environmental goals or making ties with charities. W2O comes in three dance-themed flavors — Cran-Apple Waltz, Orange Tango and Tropical Samba — and “is specifically formulated to appeal to busy, modern day women,” the company says.
In a segment of the alcohol category that is already popular with women, Beringer Blass Wine Estates released a low-calorie White Lie wine for women. Called White Lie Early Season Chardonnay, the wine, which launched in the spring, is naturally lower in alcohol, and as a result, lower in calories than most California Chardonnays.
While White Lie is designed for women, Beringer Blass is not relying on a feminine label to attract these consumers. The bottles instead feature a subtle reference to the wine’s reduced calories and little messages about the white lies women tell. To play off White Lie Early Season’s playful, irreverent tone on its packaging, Beringer Blass partnered with author, Jennifer Weiner, to create a series of literary events as a key part of the launch.
Brown-Forman rebranded its Five Rivers wines this spring as well. The whimsical new packaging features the Goddesses of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Each varietal (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) features one of the Goddesses, along with a tale of her involvement on the Central Coast. The new packaging appears to recognize women’s buying power in the wine industry.
Also targeting women but in a more kitschy way, Rainier Wine LLC, Bellevue, Wash., released two new lifestyle wine brands designed to appeal directly to women: Grand Embrace and Mad Housewife. Unlike beer, which is very gender-targeted toward men, wine is very gender-less, company co-founder Mike Lynch says. The Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and newly added Merlot use slightly different photos of a 1950s-style housewife. The company plans to introduce the model into different seasonal situations such as back-to-school or wintertime programs to keep the brand fresh.
Mad Housewife wine lends itself to be marketed at retail in unique ways, Lynch says. “We merchandise the product with life-size standees of the Mad Housewife along with other merchants who have included old-style refrigerators and washers to be in theme near big stacks of our wine,” he explains. “A few resorts are offering the wine with getaway packages such as ‘Desperate House Fraus’ and other ‘Desperate Housewives’ tie-ins.”
In a category typically marketed to men, Productscan Online reported this fall the launch of Anheuser-Busch’s 9th Street Market Extra Special Infused Pilsner Beer, a lager in a variety of fruit flavors aimed at 21- to 49-year-old females. Anheuser-Busch has released a number of fruit-infused beers in test markets in the United States. The beers, marketed under the 9th Street Market brand, feature flavors such as Orange Grapefruit, Lime & Cactus and Pomegranate Raspberry. The age group Anheuser-Busch is targeting is normally not as drawn to conventional beer as the traditional male consumer. All of the varieties have a 4.2 percent alcohol by volume content, 105 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrates per 12-ounce serving. The beer is expected to be sold in clear high-shouldered glass bottles in six-pack carriers and a three-count sampler pack.
The color pink seems to be the way female-marketed beverage products like to differentiate themselves from other gender-less alternatives. Dauccourt Martin Imports, New York, distributes X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, which is produced in France. Targeted toward young women, the pink liqueur is a combination of premium French vodka and Provence blood oranges, balanced with mango and passionfruit.
With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many beverages, pink colored or not, lend themselves to be marketed to benefit this cause. Launched this September, The Republic of Tea Sip for the Cure Pink Lemonade Iced Green Tea, available in a six-count Traveler’s Tin or a 12-ounce bottle, donates a percentage of its sales to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. BI