Drinks giant Coors is set to target women drinkers in 2009 after the brewer of Carling set up a group dubbed Project Eve to increase awareness of its brands among female consumers.

Chief executive Mark Hunter set up the five-woman team as part of a drive to increase sales among women that will include the launch of a 99-calorie bottle of Carling.

“We’re trying to get women to just stop and consider beer,” Hunter told The Times. “If you research women and ask them how many calories they think there are in a pint of beer, the majority will be north of 500 calories, when the truth is 180-220 on average.

“The perception among women is that they don’t like beer, because it’s too bitter and it’s got far too many calories. The industry needs to deal with that but historically has been woeful at doing so and we feel there’s an opportunity to step into that space.”

He added: “We need to develop beers that taste different. There’s already enormous diversity and choice in the beer category, but we need to stretch the boundaries. Since 1980 the volume of beer consumed in the UK has fallen by about 20% [but] wine has been growing and spirits have come back into growth, both of which are fundamentally orientated at more of a female user base. It seemed obvious there is an opportunity to make beer a bigger part of the consideration set for females who drink alcohol.”

Further plans in 2009 for Coors, which claims around 22% of the domestic beer market, include the UK launch of US brand Blue Moon and a reduced-abv variant of its White Shield ale, dubbed Red Shield.