RockStar Pink

‘Pretty’ beverages for women? A rather tasteless idea

Women are all the rage in the drinks industry, it would appear. With product launches in beer, soft drinks and spirits targetting the fairer sex, the female of the species is in the spotlight. The critics are not impressed. So what are some of these beverages and why do they have the critics spitting…?

“Re-do them in pink” seems to be the inspired marketing brief behind several new international “girlie” launches – a move which Richard Woodward, writing for, terms a “patronising, prehistoric nadir”.

In the UK, AG Barr, the producer of Irn Bru and Tizer, has launched what it claims to be the first energy drink targeted specifically at women. It’s called Rockstar Pink, it’s dressed in predictable Barbie colours and each can has only ten calories. Then, Molson Coors’ UK arm, has unveiled Animee, a 4% abv bottled beer also targeting women. Then, over in the US, Diageo has launched Qream, described as “an ultra-premium cream liqueur” (even though it’s 99% lactose free). 

What the critics have to say

Qream[Qream] ….is meant for women – or, as Diageo puts it, “developed with a specific demographic of North American women in mind, and forms part of Diageo’s ongoing strategy to tap into this growing market”.

Why is Diageo doing this? Because, as the company points out, “one out of every three alcoholic drinks sold today is consumed by a woman”. To which I’m tempted to say that they should be launching products more suited to the needs of the people who consume two out of every three alcoholic drinks sold.

Or – and here’s a novel idea – they could just focus on coming up with new launches that are targeted at people. Other than products that are exclusively used by one gender or another, are the world’s most successful brands “men’s” products or “women’s” products? Coke? Mars? VW? Apple?

I simply don’t accept the premise that Diageo needs to create drinks products “developed specifically for women”. Sure, for historical and cultural reasons, many of its brands will have a male consumer bias, but mainstream brands such as Smirnoff and Gordon’s have already moved well beyond the male-centred marketing of yesteryear.

Anyway, even if we accept the premise that women in the US are screaming out for their own cream liqueur, is this really the way to go about meeting that demand? Qream’s packaging, in girly peach and pink, is about as clichéd and frankly patronising as it gets.

Richard Woodward, Read more

Animée. Even its name evokes an aura of femininity – and that’s exactly who Molson Coors hopes will gravitate toward the beverage. To be released in the UK this fall, Molson Coors is seeking to strike out the gender imbalance within the beer-drinking crowd, following their research that showed only 17% of its sales were to women. A girly beer – sounds good in theory, right?

At first glance, the brew sports a decorative label that’s easy on the eyes, sans the bold colors of your classic red-labeled Budweiser or blue-wrapped Miller bottles. Molson Coors is catering to the strictly female crowd with a pleasant, rose-toned bottle – filled with suds of the same colour. To make it appealing to the female crowd, it has to be pink?

Well, if you’re not lured in by eye candy alone, let’s look at what’s inside the Animée bottle. Pop the top and you’ll note a unique concoction – frankly, we’re not even sure you can call it beer. The company notes that it comes in three different varieties. Molson Coors lists Animée’s flavours as: clear filtered, crisp rosé, and zesty lemon. That’s hardly a departure from the fruity malty beverages and wine coolers the company wants women to put down. And frankly, the addition of any of those flavours seems to be a perilous addition to the four simple ingredients that make up most beers.

Nick Carbone, Read more

AnimeeI attended the launch of Animee on Monday night, a range of three “beers” specifically designed for women.

I was decidedly underwhelmed by the taste. Despite having some pretty pictures of hops on the bottle, if anyone can identify anything even approaching a normal beer flavour in any of these drinks I’ll eat my hat. The standard “clear beer” may have a passing resemblance to a weak lager shandy, but the lemon is simply undrinkable and as for the rosé version – pretty in pink it ain’t…

Molson Coors, the multinational brewery giants behind “Animee”, are not the only ones to target female drinkers recently. Carlsberg also entered the battlefield last year with Eve, a lychee-flavoured beverage “based on malt and rice”. So why the mad scramble?

The brewing market faces some major challenges right now, with big brands in decline and fewer people going to pubs. Ironically, at the same time small breweries, which are putting an emphasis on provenance, strong tasting notes and exciting natural flavours, are seeing a sharp growth curve. We now have more breweries in this country than at any other time since the second world war…

But is a range of prettily packaged, flavoured drinks for the “ladeez” the silver bullet to all the woes of the big brewers? No, it simply isn’t.

Several pieces of research – ironically including one done by the Molson Coors’ “girly arm”, BitterSweet Partnership – clearly show that there are several factors that stop women from buying beer: a lack of education, too much gassy rubbish and ugly glassware. Top of the list, however, is that they find the inherent sexism in beer advertising and marketing off-putting – and there’s certainly little that says “it’s not pink and fruity enough”.

In fact, quite the opposite; when Professor Fons Trompenaars, one of Europe’s leading market research gurus, investigated this issue last year, he found it was the divide the brewers themselves had created between the sexes that has put women off beer.

What the female market most wants is to be more informed through unisex marketing and education. After years of adverts about groups of lads who can’t get into a cosmic nightclub or who shelter their pints in the shade of some Sheila’s giant rack is this all too little too late?

Big breweries need to ask themselves why more women don’t drink the beers they are already selling – and the answer is that they have busily been disenfranchising women from the beer market for the past 40 years and are now clumsily trying to entice them back. It’s the business equivalent of someone breaking up with you horribly at school, only to beg you to come back in your mid-30s.

Before I go I’ll leave you with this thought from Molson Coors marketing director Chris McDonough: “It’s important when launching a female beer not to be too patronising.” Oh, the irony.

Melissa Cole, The Guardian: Read more