Marketing used to be simple. There were tangible, quantifiable demographics you could cling to as an advertiser: men, women, Asian, African-American, White, poor, middle-class, young, old, urban and suburban, etc. You could easily - so the advertisers thought and based their simplified marketing models on - divide these broad categories into general spending habits and go from there.
It's natural that these demographics came about. Humans have taken our animal instincts (Is it food? Are you a friend or enemy? Can I mate with you?) a step further - because we can. Our brains are wired to find patterns and define our own place within those patterns. We fit ourselves into those demographics, then we become those demographics. It becomes a self-fulfilling cycle. Or so, this is how it used to be.
Rapidly changing technology and the cultural highway of social media are giving us, as individuals, greater power over how we define ourselves, and because of this our definitions of ourselves are becoming more complex and nuanced. This, combined with ever-increasing, uncontrolled population growth has inevitably created diversity within the simple demographic categories - creating further categories, multiple subcategories, and many shades of gray. One need not be either male or female or gay or straight; one can be a youthful senior or a highly mature, globally-savvy youth; an individual can consist of many different ethnic or racial categories and can even live in two different cultures at the same time. In short: those demographic categories which advertisers have used for so long have become painfully antiquated. Creaky. Rusted. Falling off the hinges!
Yet, some people still struggle with this. What made me start thinking about this was a comment that my boss made the other day. She was being interviewed by a journalist who asked her about marketing beer to women. My boss' opinion was that you don't really market beer to women - which is part of why craft beer has been so successful in drawing women to it naturally. For some reason, the journalist continued to push, really wanting an answer, and ended up misquoting my boss just to get one. Why do people need an answer to a question which is so deeply submerged in an antiquated demographic system?
The truth is - still speaking on a global scale - people have redefined these demographics to interest categories. Instead of being defined by your age or your gender or what you look like, you can now define yourself by your interests - and that's a much more powerful marketing tool because an individual's spending habits are more easily predicted by interests - despite the fact that a single "interest category" could easily contain individuals who fit into multiple old-school demographic categories.
So how does one translate this to the beer world?
As an example, you may be able to define "interest categories" as such (this is not a comprehensive list by any means...):
- People who drink craft beer versus people who drink American adjunct lagers
- People who prefer strong, bold beers vs. people who prefer lighter, more subtle flavors
- People who prefer stouts and porters
- People who prefer IPAs and hoppier beers
- People who love sour beers
- People who are into traveling and tasting beers of the world
So how do you market beer to women? You don't. Get over it. Make a great stout and market to stout-drinkers. Make a great IPA and market to hoppy beer lovers. But for god sake, stop asking that stupid question!