The New Target of the Alcohol Industry
In the days of Mad Men, it was mostly the male workers prodigiously swigging booze on the job and after hours. But in recent years, the alcohol industry has shifted focus to target women, introducing products with names like Girls’ Night Out, Mommy’s Time Out and even MommyJuice.
The shift follows a trend that has seen the overall amount of alcohol drunk by Americans increase by huge numbers (30% over the last decade, according to NPR), but also an increase in the numbers of women imbibing. In the 1990s, just 15% of whisky drinkers were women, Fred Minnick, author of Whiskey Women told NPR. Today, women represent 37% of U.S. whisky drinkers.
Changing Times and Changing Demographics
In the old days, whisky drinking was seen predominantly as a man’s game. The archaic, sexist view of men’s and women’s roles in that era thought nothing of men sipping hard liquor, but looked badly upon women who wished to indulge in the same. That’s all changed, and brands targeting women and female celebrities endorsing their own lines of liquor aimed at the coveted and growing demographic is the proof (no pun intended.)
Skinnygirl’s line of low-calorie, ready-to-serve cocktail products targeted squarely at women drinkers, founded by “Real Housewives of New York City” star Bethenny Frankel, was the fastest-growing alcohol brand in 2012, according to Salon. Aligning itself as “the brand that has re-energized the way women cocktail and define themselves,” (notice use of “cocktail” as a verb here.) It even had an advertising campaign with the tagline “Drink Like a Lady.”
Female Celebrity Endorsements, Product Lines Making a Splash
Other notable women celebrities, like Fergie of Black Eyed Peas fame, have launched low-calorie alcoholic beverages of their own. Her brand of vodka, Voli, comes in 6 flavors, touts no extra sugars, and is purportedly described by Fergie herself as a drink for people with healthy lifestyles such as herself, Salon reports. Alcohol commercials featuring women have become a mainstay of television. Actress Mila Kunis has been in a years-long ad campaign for Jim Beam bourbon, and Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks has hawked Johnny Walker Black Label in TV ads.
Since alcohol was mass marketed, the ad campaigns have been unabashedly targeted at men, featuring scantily clad female models, presented as a product that will make men more interesting or attractive to women. That mindset has shifted as women have ascended in the workplace and society at large. Today’s liquor commercials and product lines are just as likely to target female consumers as men, and they’re having great success catering to this once underserved demographic.