retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Interesting story from Bloomberg about the makers of Jim Beam, who, after 216 years of marketing to guys, have decided that women can make a pretty profitable customer segment. And so, Beam Inc. - which has just become an independent company after splitting from Fortune Brands - is selling “Courvoisier cognac infused with red wine, tart Pucker vodka and low-calorie Skinnygirl cocktails.”

According to the story, “The focus on women happened almost by accident. In 2009, the distiller introduced a black cherry-infused Jim Beam. Marketers gave the whiskey a masculine name, Red Stag, and signed Kid Rock to pitch the product. As sales took off, Beam discovered women were buying the sweeter concoction at almost three times the rate at which they typically bought bourbon.

“Beam decided to dig deeper, and research revealed what the company came to call the ‘girlfriend connection’ ... The resulting insights guided new marketing programs targeted to women and led to the development of more flavored spirits. The opportunity was significant. While women make up almost half of spirits drinkers, they consume just a quarter of the volume sold,” according to Global Chief Marketing Officer Kevin George.

The Eye-Opening point is this. Beam Inc. isn’t abandoning men, but it understands that to grow sales - especially in tough economic times - you have to be willing to expand your thinking, to consider how to reach customers that may not have been the central of the target. That willingness can spell the difference between long-term success and failure ... both creatively and on the bottom line.

At this morning’s staff meeting, the following questions perhaps ought to be asked:

• Who are we not talking to that we should be talking to?

• How do we do it?

And then, get to work doing it.
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