Sexist Marketing + Pink Beer: A New Reason to Hate Corporate Beer 24


Dear Molson Coors,

I hate you.

Sincerely,

The Wench

Frankly, I don’t even know where to begin.

Two weeks ago, Molson Coors announced the release of a new line of beers specifically targeted towards women — a concept that not only angers and disgusts me, but is downright offensive.

I first got wind of the rumored “clear beer” last year, and most definitely aired my grievances then (read: BEER WARS: The Female Edition). But I had not heard anything more on the subject until recently. And as if clear beer wasn’t bad enough… Molson Coors also announced the launch of both a pink and yellow hued beer enhanced with what I assume is artificial flavoring.

Thankfully, this abomination of a product is only being released in the U.K. Those poor Brits…

According to research done by the marketing lackeys of Molson Coors, only 17% of women in the UK drink beer (as compared to 25% in the U.S.). Honestly, I don’t know much about the U.K. craft beer scene, aside from what Melissa Cole and Mark Dredge have told me. But something tells me that the lack of women drinking beer is a deeper issue than Molson Coors is willing to admit.

Perhaps the reason why more women drink beer in the U.S. is because our craft beer industry is twice, maybe 3 times larger and more extensive than the U.K.’s. Per capita, the U.S. has more craft breweries. And craft breweries make up a much larger percentage (albeit an extremely small percentage) of overall market share in the U.S.

So what does this mean? It means the average U.K. citizen is not exposed or does not have access to as much delicious flavorful beer as the U.S. Don’t get me wrong, the U.K. boasts a lot of really amazing and talented craft breweries. But from what I understand, corporate beer dominates the market place. And let’s face it, if my options were limited to corporate swill, I probably wouldn’t drink beer either.

Using probability theory and sheer common sense, one might be able to logically deduce a correlation between the fact that the U.S. has a larger craft beer market and a higher percentage of women beer drinkers. My theory is that, despite what Molson Coors research has concluded, women in fact prefer more flavorful, artisan-crafted beverages. This is also because I also believe that women, on average, have better palates than men. But, don’t just take my word for it…

According to research done at Yale University in the early 90’s, women, on average, possess more tastebuds than men. Linda Bartoshuk, professor of otolaryngology and psychology at Yale, is one of the leading scientists researching genetic variation in the ability to taste. She is the very scientist that coined the term “super taster,” which refers to those born with extra taste receptors. According to her research, 25% of the population are supertasters, 25% are nontasters and 50% are tasters. For American Caucasians, about 35% of women and only 15% of men are supertasters.

And the buck doesn’t stop at tasting. Marcia Pelchat, a sensory psychologist specializing in food and beverage selections at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, has been credited with concluding that, on average, women have a better sense of smell than men. And according to Marcia, both taste and smell contribute to the perception of flavor, which gives a stronger argument in favor of women being better tasters than men.

And researchers aren’t the only people acknowledging this fact. Even the big beer guys are catching on…

Last year, SABMiller announced that 30% of its 1,000 advanced-level tasters are female — a number that has roughly quadrupled in 10 years. Interestingly enough, SABMiller says its empirical evidence shows that females are the superior sex when it comes to detecting such undesirable chemicals such as 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol (which is responsible for skunk flavors in beer).

So hypothetically, if women are more sensitive to smell and better tasters than men, doesn’t it seem like they would desire more aromatics and flavor in beer? And conversely, if they are, in fact, more sensitive to smell and taste, they would be more capable of detecting off-flavors and flaws in beer, which means they have a higher chance of being turned off from beers (like adjunct lagers) that are characteristically flawed. Right?

As for the new Molson Coors product, let us discuss just how asinine and horrendous it truly is…

“The 4% ABV beer is lightly sparkling and finely filtered with a delicious, fresh taste. Animée will be available in three variants: clear filtered , crisp rosé and zesty lemon.” Let us get this straight. Molson Coors is blatantly implying that women have inferior palates. Wow. What a fucking smack in the face.

Not only did Molson Coors completely remove any sort of semblance of beer from the product, they also felt the need to spike it with artificial flavors and colors. It truly makes me want to scream and cry at the same time. This must be some sick and cruel joke.

And to add insult to injury. The rose flavor is fucking pink. I fucking hate pink. And when I saw the label with the pink hops, I threw up in my mouth. Twice.

Let us review what we have learned today: Molson Coors did some research and found that only 17% of women in the U.K. drink beer. Yale research says that women are more likely to be supertasters. Research also shows that women possess a more sensitive sense of smell. SABMiller is continuing to hire more women tasters because they acknowledge the aforementioned. Yet, Molson Coors thinks that instead of creating a more flavorful and aromatic beer to attract more women, the best plan was to completely strip beer of all of its wonderful qualities and add even more adjuncts and artificiality.

As much as I would love to speak on the behalf of all women out there, I can only speak for myself. Personally, I was very much NOT a beer drinker until I discovered craft beer. When I wanted to get drunk in college, I usually opted for disgusting mixed drinks and boxed wine over yellow fizzy mass-produced beer. It wasn’t until I started to study for sommelier certification when I was 22 that I really began to respect an appreciate the complexities and nuances in alcohol. But it wasn’t until I was exposed to the amazing world of craft beer, that I became a craft beer drinker. And now look at me….

In conclusion, being both a soapbox craft beer evangelist and feminist, there is no way in hell that I will advocate or support this product. In fact, I hope that the concept fails miserably and that Molson Coors loses big money in the process. And while I watch them crash and burn, I will raise a pint of craft beer in the mist of their ashes and declare with conviction… “I AM A CRAFT BEER DRINKER”.

For more information on this subject, check out Melissa Cole’s take on Animee.


About The Beer Wench

Ashley is a self-proclaimed craft beer evangelist & social media maven on a mission to advance the craft beer industry through education, inspiration and advocacy. She is currently the “Director of Awesomeness” at Bison Brewing in Berkeley, CA — where her responsibilities include everything from marketing, sales, PR, social media & events. Ashley is also a freelance consultant and professional speaker on the subjects of social media, beer mixology, food & beverage pairings. She is the founder of DrinkWithTheWench.com & BeerMixology.com as well as a regular contributor to CraftBeer.com.


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24 thoughts on “Sexist Marketing + Pink Beer: A New Reason to Hate Corporate Beer

  • Tatiana

    Wow… the subtle marketing truly appeals to my sensitive femininity… I think I’ll buy a couple cases for my beer cellar!

    But I do have a question… was Saison De Wench not in a pink label? :O Discuss <3

  • Leilani Carrara

    This kind of beverage reminds me of the Bartles & James era I grew up with. I’d be curious if these “beers” are more of the “malted beverage” variety, and if they are sweet. If these beverages are sweet, and given different colors, it would seem they are aiming for sweet beverage drinkers, trying to jump-start a new sub-section of the consumer base that might not have considered this “arena” in the past.

    This marketer needs more data! :)

    Also, I too am a non-fan of pink, and your post reminded me of an article I read last week about women hating pink (though it had to do with a different industry) and I can’t help but wonder if women in the U.K. would feel the same way about the same industry, as well as across multiple industries. Food for thought: http://gawker.com/5825126/women-actually-hate-the-color-pink

  • kat

    i totally get the frustration behind this campaign, but marketing/advertising has always been sexist in some way shape or form. when was the last time you saw a commercial for laundry detergent with a man using the product? or a diet drink with a man drinking it (except for the old slim fast commercials with sports greats like dan marino or tommy lasorda, haha)? or a tool commercial with a woman using the product? it’s just simple marketing and shouldn’t be taken too seriously…as marketing/advertising only has to be geared toward the “average user”.

    just something to keep in mind next time one feels offended/treated like they are 5 by advertising. there’s totally more important things to take up our time and energy, but i 100% see where you’re coming from.

  • A.J.

    I’m not fond of this product either, but what part of “The 4% ABV beer is lightly sparkling and finely filtered with a delicious, fresh taste. Animée will be available in three variants: clear filtered , crisp rosé and zesty lemon,” blatantly implies that women have an inferior palate? Perhaps as a man I also have less implication sensors, but I don’t see it. If you’re assuming that artificial flavors and adjuncts are used and that these don’t contribute satisfactory flavors, then I’d understand, but they aren’t blatantly saying that…at all. If a craft brewery released a beer with floral notes, gave it a “feminine” name, and put pink of the label, would you be attacking it? My guess is no since beers like that already exist, but I won’t assume anything.

    Promote craft beer, hold macro breweries accountable for things, and educate people…but inflating an issue probably isn’t going to help much long-term. Other than your personal opinions on its color and the fact that it’s Molson Coors, what is your outrage over this product? A product targeting women is about as sexist as the McDonald’s Playplace is an age discrimination issue.

  • John Foster

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttjV2xf4j_g

    one of the best beer commercials ever offers commentary on women and beer. it’s the cut away scene at the end where the “girl friends” are looking at their “boy friends” in contempt of the cliche that they are describing. this speaks loudly in ways that words cannot.

    I’m sorry that the other 28 seconds will offend some people.

  • Mike

    Not that I disagree with the general sentiment of your rant, but it’s a common misconception that supertasters would prefer a more complex, flavorful or nuanced beverage. Supertasters tend to be put off by stronger flavors or sensations as they are too intense. Bitterness and carbonation are two very beery characteristics that supertasters tend to be put off by.

  • Sheppy

    Amazing … isn’t it?

    It seems that MC have correctly identified a major problem with their product IE women (about half the population) don’t like their mass-produced light lagers.

    Their solution appears to be to create a beer that out-light-lagers that women don’t like.

    It just seems like such a disconnect between their “market research” and the reality of their market.

    Anyway … get article, Wench.

  • Bruce Ticknor

    Let’s see, only 17% of UK women drink beer, After 50 years of male centric advertising in which the only women were barley dressed and they can’t figure out why only 17% drink beer?
    The only thing I can’t figure out is why the other 83% still wear clothes at all.

  • Sarah

    Thank you. This girl beer crap makes me so angry, but the most I can ever say about it is “THIS MAKES ME SO ANGRY! SEXIST!” You’ve made an actual argument, with facts. I love it. Also, I can’t believe they put pink hops on the bottles.

  • Jason Harris

    Women who enjoy beer are a happy minority, and women who enjoy craft beer a small part of that group. If this drink is offensive, is it somehow offensive that they sell Smirnoff Ice? Or Bacardi, or Bartles & James?

    I don’t want to drink these beers either, but I don’t think assuming every woman has the same tastes or being offended on behalf of women that a brewery is targeting them with sweet, light flavored drinks is warranted. Are we going to be offended at every bar that sells a vodka cranberry too? Those women should be drinking fine craft whiskeys!

  • Jack

    First and foremost, isn’t your argument over the use of the color pink a bit flawed? Do you not have a beer named after yourself (Saison de Wench) that has pink lettering and a pink label? Secondly, the “pink hops” is actually a cutout on the label design. The body color of the beer is simply showing through the clear cut out hop image.

    At any rate, I think this is being turned into a bigger deal than it really is. It’s another product that will fizzle and is being attacked because it’s made by a macrobrewery.

  • Risa

    “I AM A CRAFT BEER DRINKER”, have been for well over 20 years since I was served my first Orval (in the correct glass) at Brewsky’s (NYC). Molson, Moosehead, Miller its all shite to me. Molson is attempting to appeal to the flavored spirits crowd, but they will fail. As a CB drinker, I know they are not targeting me, but my girlfriends who drink the flavored spirits do not drink beer of any kind and never will, even if Brad Pitt or George Clooney personally served it to them.

  • Tom

    Clear Pepsi did not last. Nor did Zima. MGD64 Lemonade is gone too.

    Humans rely on visuals and color to taste. Drinking a clear beer would be tricking the eyes and the taste buds would not like it. If taste buds are angry, then that will be the last I buy of it.

    In my opinion, the problem with craft beers for women is not because they do not like the taste or have different tastes, or that it is not marketed to them correctly, IT IS that most women do not like to show off their beer guts like men do. When I started working in the craft brew industry, I gained 25 pounds that year. When I had trouble tying my shoes, we got a dog, I walked more, and I started drinking my wife’s Michelob 55 more often, I lost 15 of those pounds and can tie my shoes.

    For how often I have heard the women in my life (wife and family members) bitch about how they think they look fat, I can understand why they would not want to drink a Dogfish Head Fort 415 calorie beer, or a New Belgium Trippel 215 calories.

    And even if the calories do not add up, drinking craft beer is more filling and makes you feel fatter. Again not something females typically like to feel.

  • Gerard Walen

    With all due respect, Ashley, I take journalistic offense at a part of this. Toward the top, you write ” … Molson Coors also announced the launch of both a pink and yellow hued beer enhanced with what I assume is artificial flavoring.”

    Then further down, you say: “Not only did Molson Coors completely remove any sort of semblance of beer from the product, they also felt the need to spike it with artificial flavors and colors.”

    First, you made an assumption, then later stated it as fact. Did you research these statements? From the way you presented it, it seems that you did not.

    I do not disparage your opinions at all, but when you don’t back up such statements with fact, the conclusions seem suspect.

    See ya in a few weeks!

  • Sarah Jones

    Hate is a strong word. Regardless of what Molson Coors is up to with their marketing, that’s life…at least they aren’t spreading hate into the world. Way to make your point. Looking forward to IPA day on April 4.

  • Distorted

    I share your pain, really I do. Here in Australia we had this little gem launched in 2009, Hummingbird. Here’s a suitable ranty blog that’ll make you feel at home, http://blogs.crikey.com.au/thestump/2009/10/16/this-ones-for-da-ladies/

    And my favourite, the pitch!

    “Australian women drink over 44 million cases of beer a year but there wasn’t one beer made especially for them. Lower in carbohydrates, a smaller 275mL bottle, light and fresh tasting with a hint of citrus – Hummingbird Blonde Lager by Cruiser is something for the girls to enjoy.”

    So, we’ve learnt that idiocy, when it pertains to marketing beer, is not exclusive to one country.

  • Adam

    As mentioned above, nowhere in “The 4% ABV beer is lightly sparkling and finely filtered with a delicious, fresh taste. Animée will be available in three variants: clear filtered , crisp rosé and zesty lemon” do they refer to women having an inferior palate, much less “BLATANTLY implying that women have inferior palates”

    And then you say, “And to add insult to injury. The rose flavor is fucking pink. I fucking hate pink. And when I saw the label with the pink hops, I threw up in my mouth. Twice.” Yet, as also mentioned above, the label of your very own Saison de Wench is pink. Oh, irony how I love thee. If anyone cares to see her pink label, it can be seen here: http://beernews.org/2011/07/bison-saison-de-wench-up-next-in-beer-of-the-month-series/

    Lastly, being a supertaster can be a curse just as much as it can be a blessing. It’s not always a good thing. “And conversely, if they are, in fact, more sensitive to smell and taste, they would be more capable of detecting off-flavors and flaws in beer, which means they have a higher chance of being turned off from beers (like adjunct lagers) that are characteristically flawed. Right?” .. and conversely, if women are more sensitive to smell and taste, they could be turned off by the aggressiveness of big, over the top flavored and hop forward beers, that a normal taster might deem as delicious and perfectly balanced.

    Let the product speak for itself. If it’s a terrible product with terrible marketing, the beer will sink on its own.

    We’ve seen you hop on your soapbox time and time again and making terrible arguments each time, as you are repeatedly “slapped in the face” and everything is just “downright offensive”. The girl who was with me at the time of me reading your post outright said “this post is probably more damaging to the women’s movement more than it is helpful.”

    So, chill.

  • Joy

    YUCK! This reminds me of back in highschool (errr, I mean when I first turned 21) when we all used to drop jolly ranchers in our bottles of ZIma. Thank God our tastes change as we get older!

  • Lilly T.

    A little dramatic don’t ya think!

    From a marketing stand point Molson Coors saw this as an opportunity to tap into a market they didn’t have a big stakehold in. It may fail, but they can afford to take that risk now can’t they.

    By saying that Molson Coors is implying that women have an inferior palate do to their marketing stratagy is like saying cereal companies are intentionally trying to rot out our kids teeth by using bottom shelf product placement for their sugary flashy cereals that kids are generally attracted to. It’s a long shot.

    On the pink issue..some women like pink and some women like blue…Who really cares about that! It’s not a big issue. As a woman, and as craft beer drinker myself I think the bigger issue is lack education to target markets (like women) about craft beers and how to navigate through their complexities. We accomplish that and we might have a larger group of female craft beer drinkers reflected in their marketing campaigns.

    So rant away. Childish antics and being a drama queen won’t get you anywhere.

  • Wenchie Post author

    @Joy… HAHA! That comment made me laugh…. Jolly Ranchers in ZIMA… what a perfect analogy :)

  • Julia Glaser

    Damn! This is so sexist!! Frankly any beer manufacturer that goes out of their way to resort to cheap marketing strategies, deserves a feminine boots to their bottoms! I personally would boycott such beers! And another thing, you need not make the beer sweet to make us drink it! Women are just as capable of drinking bitter beer as men!! And if we really wanted sweetening, we would go for aerated drinks!