We girls are becoming increasingly partial to a pint. Nearly half (47%) of women now say beer is their tipple of choice, beating both a glass of wine (43%) and a splash of Prosecco (10%), according to an Asda survey.
It’s surprising. At least that was my first reaction. And then I engaged my brain and realised how ludicrous that was. Why wouldn’t women prefer beer? Are our tastebuds genetically programmed to prefer pinot to a Peroni? I’m no scientist but I’d guess not.
Instead I’m pretty sure the belief that what we drink is linked to our gender is a product of some very outdated marketing. And some of the biggest culprits here are the beer brands. Be there bikini-clad models, blokey dating advice or all-male meet-ups down the pub, advertising campaigns almost invariably place beer into the hands of men.
SABMiller boss Alan Clark admitted as much earlier this year, calling for an end to campaigns that were “dismissive” or “insulting” to women. He should know. SABMiller-owned Foster’s is one of the serial offenders. Aussie duo Brad and Dan have been dishing out blokey tips on behalf of the brand since 2009 and they haven’t been the worst at alienating female drinkers in the lager’s history. An ad for Foster’s Super Chilled in which breasts were used as a handy beer cooler probably didn’t go down so well with a female audience either.
There are signs of change. In the wake of Clark’s comments, Foster’s dropped Brad and Dan (who went off into the sunset to get hitched) and new brands specifically targeting women are popping up too. One brewery in Brazil is challenging the negative stereotypes with its “feminist” beer, Cerveja Feminista, which has a label featuring the symbol for gender equality.
Not that excluding men from branding is the solution. What we need to see is a complete shift away from gender as some kind of crude indicator of what we’re likely to order at the bar.
That won’t only need addressing by the big beer breweries, of course. As much as a woman can opt for a Carlsberg over a cocktail, so too can a man enjoy a glass of fizz, a fact he may find difficult to admit when the likes of Canti market prosecco with a TV ad that shares striking similarities with those for women’s perfume.
Having given it all some further thought, the only thing I find truly surprising about the results from Asda’s survey is that women have waded through all this gender stereotyping to get to the bar and order a pint.