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Marketing Wine to Women


pattimw
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This article in the LA Times

O'Brien, 49, who made his money running computer software companies, bought 40 acres in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley five years ago, renamed it O'Brien Family Vineyard and announced that he was going to make a $28 Bordeaux blend aimed at women.

"Folks in Napa said I was absolutely wrong," he told me over lunch recently. "They said women drink only … white wine, cheap white wine that they buy in the grocery store."

Ouch! The tone on the part of the author is certainly not sympathetic to this cause of marketing wine to women, and he also mentions "Wine for Women" by Leslie Sbrocco, which educates about wine in the following manner:

But Sbrocco also repeatedly compares specific wine varietals to articles of clothing, as if women were too ignorant or too stupid to understand wine on its own terms.

Thus, Chardonnay is popular largely because of its versatility, "just like those black pants that come in many fabrics and styles." Sauvignon Blanc is like "a crisp white cotton [shirt]." Pinot Noir is satin. Merlot is "nothing short of vinous cashmere." Zinfandel is "black leather pants." Cabernet Sauvignon is a "wine wardrobe essential," the equivalent of an "all-purpose" black suit. Dessert wines are pajamas.

When I spoke with Sbrocco last week, she said she used the fashion analogies "to focus on things relevant to women's daily lives."

I know that it is true that wine marketing is directed at men, for sure. Pick up any Wine Spectator and you will see that. But is it fair to "dumb it down" for women? I really also didn't realize that there was such a gap in the levels of wine drinking among men and women.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this topic. I thought it was an interesting article and a sub text in the wine industry that I have always been curious about.

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When I spoke with Sbrocco last week, she said she used the fashion analogies "to focus on things relevant to women's daily lives."

Well, wine's relevant to my daily life.

I actually like fashion and I still find the comparisons, um, unhelpful. Dessert wines are pajamas? Huh?

Can you pee in the ocean?

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If this guy makes a dime I will feel personally betrayed by my gender.

(I'm sure he'll make lots. Sigh.)

I find it easier, somehow, to look at it as "Betrayed by my Species". Bad taste is the Universal Common Denominator.

For what it's worth, I have found over the years that women tend to have the better palate, and now I find that they are quickly bridging the education/intimidation/bullcrap gap as well.

Edited by Capaneus (log)
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Uh, o.k.

The fashion analogies are interesting on their own, but the greater context is odd.

The wine store in our area has a good angle with female buyers. They have very nice, not in the least bit condescending staff who will gladly answer your questions and tell you pertinent information about a bottle (or twelve). How about that? Slick huh?

What's wrong with peanut butter and mustard? What else is a guy supposed to do when we are out of jelly?

-Dad

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When I spoke with Sbrocco last week, she said she used the fashion analogies "to focus on things relevant to women's daily lives."

So where's the denim and work boots? Syrah, I hope.

Actually, over 60% of the wine buyers in retail stores and groceries are women. Nevertheless, these writers may be the training wheels for the next 20%. Nothing wrong with world domination.

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i was ranting about this again last night after our female host (extraordinary taste buds, even though she's wrong about screwcaps) was miffed by one of her male guests dismissing her taste in wine. i was not that male guest, btw.

it's great to have more approachable ways to describe and contemplate wine. but much of this "wine for women" stuff is just pandering, shallow and sometimes downright offensive. it's a fine line between populist and trite.

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  • 3 months later...

Lo-carb, lo-cal, lo-IQ wine for women: Beringer Blass is coming out with a low-carb wine this month called "White Lie."(LA Times, registration required.)

With its curly scripted label and "wink-wink" marketing -- corks stamped with white lies, such as "I got it on sale" -- Beringer Blass Wine Estates is aiming squarely at women, consumers who some wine marketers believe have been largely ignored by the wine industry.

Industry sources, however, claim that during the past two years, women are buying more wine than men. Oh well, I think it's an idea that is going to going to go over well. Now if they would just come out with a Red Chardonnay, we could get more women to drink red wine! :wink:

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Yay! One more gimmick to make me that much more cynical! :blink::unsure:

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Beringer Blass is coming out with a low-carb wine this month called "White Lie."(LA Times, registration required.)
With its curly scripted label and "wink-wink" marketing -- corks stamped with white lies, such as "I got it on sale" -- Beringer Blass Wine Estates is aiming squarely at women, consumers who some wine marketers believe have been largely ignored by the wine industry.

Industry sources, however, claim that during the past two years, women are buying more wine than men. Oh well, I think it's an idea that is going to going to go over well. Now if they would just come out with a Red Chardonnay, we could get more women to drink red wine! :wink:

Rebel I don't know how long you've been a part of the wine industry but I have been associated with it for most of 30 years. In the early 80's several of the large producers (not Gallo) starting making "light wines" with 1/3 fewer calories. At the 1983 Monterey Wine Festival they even had a panel discusion of these wines. During the lunch I attended that day the guest speaker was Louis P. Martini who offered that "...if I want 1/3 fewer calories I just drink 1/3 less wine!" The lunch crowd roared with approval. :laugh:

And, of course, we've revisited that scenario in the last few years with "low carb" wines. :blink:

David

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During the lunch I attended that day the guest speaker was Louis P. Martini who offered that "...if I want 1/3 fewer calories I just drink 1/3 less wine!"

Me, I'd rather eat 1/3 the meal and finish off the bottle.

Maybe it's just me, ut here's how I think one should market to women:

"Do you have the ovaries to handle a full-bodied Barolo? Well, do ya, punk?"

:smile:

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What's particularly silly about marketing a low-carb wine is that ALL non-sweet wine is low in carbs. It reminds me of the early '90s, when the bad guy was cholesterol, all of a sudden you saw things like olive oil with labels saying No Cholesterol! Well duh, cholesterol is only found in animal products. And then a little bit later, when the bad guy was fat, you'd have things like a five-pound bag of sugar labeled "A Fat Free Food". :wacko: If they want to market to me, they should make wine that tastes good and doesn't cost too much. Carb count doesn't really enter into it.

"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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  • 2 months later...

Just launched . . . Wine Adventure Magazine, "the first wine magazine for women."

I'm still waiting for my initial issue. The website looks nice, and I think the articles will be appealing. It will include book reviews, and it looks like the first issue reviews the Les Halles Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain. Hmm; somewhat unusual choice for a wine mag.

Take a walk on the wild side. What's your prediction? Fab or flop?

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Mary Baker

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What's your prediction?  Fab or flop?

Flop. I checked out the web site. There's really nothing of an e-zine, so it's hard to tell what the content is really like, but citing the PR provided:

Wine Adventure isn’t written by wine snobs who assume you have a sizable collection and a wine IQ to match – our staff and contributors are people like you, who believe that wine and food shouldn’t be taken too seriously. We know how to have fun, and we want to take you along for the ride!

and

What would happen if you crossed magazines such as Wine Spectator, Condé Nast Traveler, Gourmet and Oprah? Meet Wine Adventure, the first magazine that merges food, travel, and culture through the universal connection of wine. If your idea of fun is visiting wine bars in Manhattan, experiencing the symphony of taste at a winemaker’s dinner, sipping Champagne where the grapes are grown, or just kicking back with a bottle of old-vine Zin and a nice wedge of good cheese, Wine Adventure is exactly what you’ve been waiting for.

There's absolutley nothing female-centric anywhere on the web site other than the tag line below the mag's title that reads "The first wine magazine for women!" (exclamation point actually part of the tag line).

Looking again at the first block of quoted text, what does the marketing staff think about women? They don't have a wine IQ, they shouldn't take food and wine seriously, they want to have fun. Two reactions -- 1) many people fall into that category regardless of gender, and 2) to stereotype women in this fashion can be insulting (well, my wife took it that way).

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Some good points Brad,

Interestingly, those quotes you provide from the web site could be applied to the Food Newtwork. That is precisely the audience they are targeting.

And why not? That description applies to a very large group of people.

I remember the howls from people on the Wine Spectator (some are probably still howlin) web site as the publication began to include increasing focus on "lifestyle" pieces (as opposed to just wine).

The truth is --there are relatively small numbers of people who are really "into" wine.

The rest of the population may like wine but they are just not "into" wine.

Those of us who are --often rail that if only the media would be more serious--all these poeple would "come around."

Well the media are a lot smarter than us!

(lucky for them).

I can see the people launching this new venture--doing a focus group and asking people why they aren't into wine and why not. And designing a magazine and website to appeal to those folks.

I always try to remember that one man's (or woman's) hobby or vocation is just not that interesting to another.

I once had a guy go on and on about model railroads--I like trains--kinda neat--but I am not interested in knowing the details of their history and how they are made etc nor am I going to spand a lot of bucks collecting them. But hey I guess that guy probably didn't want to listen to me go one about malolactic fermentation either!

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  • 1 month later...

Women Spur New Trend in Marketing

Women make up 52 percent of the adult population and purchase 55 percent of the wine consumed in the United States.1 They represent a huge market with great purchasing power that until recently has been overlooked. According to experts, women are less influenced by wine ratings, as they tend to judge the entire product. Although the wine quality is important to women, so are the label design, the bottle shape and the philosophy of the winery.

Hmmm. But the article doesn't say what trend. ::shudder::

So why do you think the population in this forum is overwhelmly male?

Not that I'm complaining . . . :wink:

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Mary Baker

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I can only speak for the midwest women that I've dated, but it seems to be, at least here, partially a self-assurance issue. Until the women have formed an aesthetic about some area like wine, they don't want to make a decision.

*HUGE CAVEAT*

That is only the women I have dated who fit in the midwest WASP mold happily. The two that I've dated that don't, acted differently about wine.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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What crap, in so many ways, and in such quantity! Astonishing.

But I have to say, as a woman who loves clothes, I had to follow this stupid thesis. A reisling is a saucy cocktail apron? A cab is a plain black skirt? A tokay is a folkloric ensemble, accessorized with necklaces of red pepper?

Lady T on this site is the most intelligent, experienced and approachable oeno I have ever met. I will never diss the smart wine men of my acquaintance, and will continue to learn from them, but I don't think wine experience is gender-based. OTOH, a girl at work yesterday who's been having a bad day said there was a bottle of White Zin (shudder) in the fridge with her name on it. Her husband drinks Coors --- gender equality there!

Hmmm. A Vouvray is a pretty sundress, and a straw hat held in hand outside window of the deux chevaux. A jug of Paisano is jeans and and a Ban the Bomb tshirt. A bottle of Krug ain't nothing but a string of pearls and a giggle. A Montrachet is Missoni and the first date with a man who could afford it. A bottle of Big House Red is a hotel room with your lover, wrapped in the hotel bathrobes.

A Gewurtz is your first dinner party as a married lady -- a Diane Von Furstenburg wrap dress.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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And that Rioja Riserva is a BIG jangly pair of earrings!

Ones that would go with your flamenco skirt, of course... :biggrin:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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A few months ago, the folks at Beringer created a white specifically geared and marketed towards women. They called it White Lie. The premise is that it was thought up by a woman, marketed by a woman, and made by a woman winemaker. Its selling point was that it is made from "early season grapes." This just means that they are picked at a lower brix level and therefore produce a wine that is lower in alcohol. Because, of course, women don't like those giant red wines that are 15% or 16% alcohol. The resulting wine?

Well, a visit with old friends April and Walt Nissen proved fascinating...

The rest of the account is here...

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i was ranting about this again last night after our female host (extraordinary taste buds, even though she's wrong about screwcaps)

Okay, Jon... I can't leave that one alone. HOW is she wrong about screwcaps????

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Hi all,

Long time lurker, 2nd time poster (she said, with a cheesy grin). Great topic. On the one hand, myself and my female friends who are serious about wine think this approach is silly and misguided. After all, we love the intellectual rush we get from complex wines so why wouldn't the rest of the US female population? On the other hand, I know women who have no interest in real wine but want something that tastes like grape juice with a kick. One friend in particular, whose favorite 'wine' is Wild Vines, seems to be utterly immune to conversion. When I offered her what I considered a good entry-level semi-dry riesling with 11.5% alcohol, she scrunched up her nose and said "ooh, it burns my throat!".

So is this While Lie's target market? Could it be that I'm in the minority and Wild Vines-lovers are the majority?? :wacko: If so, I'd like to think that a dumbed-down marketing campaign is above them, but....

Cheers,

JEM

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After all, we love the intellectual rush we get from complex wines so why wouldn't the rest of the US female population?

You bring up an interesting point. My fiance and I had a discussion last night about recreational intellectualism (me pro, her con). Basically, my view of intellectualism is that in U.S. society, it is generally frowned upon outside of the classroom or the workplace (depending on job). That may be why some people aren't drawn to wine, or at least aren't drawn to nuanced wines.

OTOH, she likes wines, and is certainly willing to follow my journey through wines to discover fun wines.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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I wonder if this gender gap is narrowing as time goes by and wine becomes part of your general consciousness at a younger and younger age - in my circle (generally between the ages of 23 and 33), I would say the women are at least as knowledgeable as the men, if not more so. In fact, up until I read this thread, I never really thought there was a gender gap here. (I learned almost everything I know about wine from my mother, so...)

Is it more (as I think has been explored above, particularly as it relates to Coors, White Zin, and bad taste showing up in both genders :wink: ) that this wine is being marketed to the female equivalent of the guy who keeps Natty Light in the fridge, to the woman who would otherwise not buy wine at all? In other words, is this just the next chapter from the creators of Zima?

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

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I am in a fairly advance course of wine study at the moment and I would say the forty or so students are split pretty evenly between men and women.

I have found that women can be just as "geeky" as men when it comes to wine (and some other things).

Women are going into teaching wine courses (wine educators) in large numbers as well.

Let's not forget that there are a huge number of men who drink wine to get a buzz and prefer Bud Lite.

Probably no greater a percentage of the gender than women who drink nothing but cosmos.

Thus, stereotypes die hard.

I have heard somewhere that men and women are different in psychological makeup. This may explain the fact that men tend to be more overbearing and argumentative over things like wine, stereo equipment, cars etc etc etc.

It is also a fact that women are increasingly becoming wine buyers, sommeliers, sales persons in retail shops.

If one looks at the wine press: Jancis Robinson, Serena Sutcliffe, Elin McCoy, Mary Ewing Mulligan, Karen MacNeil, Jacqueline Freidrich, Andrea Immer etc etc etc one notes quite a number of women in the profession.

I have attended tastings led by Becky Wasserman who has been a major Burgundy

Exporter for decades. Her stories about being a "pioneer" in this area are fascinating and engaging. (she pops up in Mondovino).

Then there are an awful lot of wine makers of note: (some are eGulleteers!)

perhaps the most notable is Helen Turley who has had a huge impact on california wine making. In France Madame Lalou Bize Leroy is arguably one of the greatest winemakers in the world. (also Madame Ghislane Barthod in Burgundy is making wonderful wines). There are winery owners here in the US: Delia Viader, Ann Colgin,

etc etc.

As for consumers, targeting segments is a tricky endeavor there is a fine line between communicating effectively and pandering.

The best way to reach women consumers is on the front lines--at retail!

How customers are approached and handled here is critical.

Women are no less capable of being wine lovers than men are.

Wine is in many ways a passion similar to being a stereophile. A noted owner of a stereo shop here in NY once told me that men come into the store with their egos out front and heavily influenced by one stereo guide/magazine or another--whereas women come in wanting to learn and have much more open minds. he said that it was a nightmare when women who are looking to purchase a stereo bring their significant others with them. the guys take over and dominate the entire sales process even though it is the woman who is buying the steroeo for her listening pleasure. He said that women actually have a more acute sense of hearing and are often more capable of selecting a stereo they enjoy than men as a rule.

I believe there is a lesson here about wine, women and song!

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