While whiskey has been long considered a man’s drink,
from the days of cowboys in saloons to gangsters during Prohibi-
tion, the stigma has changed. The whiskey category, particularly
American, Irish and single malt Scotch, is experiencing rapid
growth due to innovation and the induction of new drinkers—
and they’re not just men.
A confluence of events has given rise to women and whiskey:
the return to classic cocktail culture (Old Fashioneds, Manhattans,
Sazeracs); an increase in higher quality; better-tasting whiskies in
the market; the popularity of TV shows like
Mad Men
walk Empire
; and the power of the purse. More and more women
hold positions of power in the workplace, and many either out-
earn their husbands or remain single with disposable income. Stud-
ies have shown that women make up 65-70% of alcohol-purchasing
decisions for at-home consumption.
Rachel Barrie, master blender for Morrison Bowmore Distillers,
has spent 22 years teaching people about Scotch whisky. She says
that women have been conditioned to believe they don’t/won’t/
can’t like whisky, but she sees a growing number discover they re-
ally enjoy it. Barrie feels that women are still a virtually untapped
market in the whiskey industry. “I believe the industry should be
far more bilingual in its communication to take full advantage of
the growth opportunity. At 50% of the population, women are
likely to provide a substantial increase in incremental sales volume
for brand owners. The brand owners that speak to women as well
as men will be the ones that reap the benefits!”
In general, women are considered better listeners than men,
and more adventurous when it comes to trying new things. This
makes them logical targets for bartenders suggesting brands and
sharing knowledge. Women also tend to be more vocal when it
comes to expressing what they like (or don’t like). With media in-
fluence also high among females, marketing can have a big impact
on the bottom line.
The Female Touch
In 2010, Jack Daniel’s began advertising to women across various
forms of media, most notably the “Not Your Mama’s Cookie
Swap” print ads which appeared in women’s magazines around the
holidays. The brand recognized the highest level of female drinkers
in the franchise in years and decided to invest behind the rising
reta Garbo perhaps said it best when she
uttered her very first words on film in the 1930
Anna Christie
: “Gimme a whiskey, ginger
ale on the side. And don’t be stingy, baby!”
wh a t wom e n wa n t:
Why the Smart, Savvy Female Consumer
is Spending on Brown Spirits
by brandy rand
Walker’s new
actress Christina
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