Putting Together the Beer Puzzle: Courting New Demographics


This week I’m delving into a three-part series to better understand the shifting beer landscape. Specifically, I hope to engage in conversations with you about different aspects of marketing and how they may be impacting practices of the industry. These posts are meant to be a collection of high-level thoughts, so I encourage you to share your own in the comments below.

One of the things that interests me about the evolving business of beer is the people to whom breweries cater.

schlitz ad
How beer used to be marketed. Click to enlarge.

We’re obviously talking craft beer fans, but to succeed in the exponentially growing beer scene, it’s much more specific than that. For decades, American beer was positioned as a man’s drink. From Schlitz’ 1952 ad of a husband comforting his wife after she ruined dinner (“Anyway, you didn’t burn the Schlitz!”) to bikini-clad women jockeying for attention after Coors Light is served, the demographics of beer marketing have been consistent.

But that can’t be the case anymore.

Yes, some among the greater industry will continue to focus on men, but to succeed these days, there’s more to it. Inclusivity is important and it’s something that screams craft beer. But just how important is it? At a time when white men may be (gasp!) drinking less beer, Hispanics and women provide key markets for success.


You need not look far to know that growth of America’s Hispanic population is an important part of our country’s future. The 2012 presidential election was a political wake-up call for the importance of Hispanic voters and marketers are now making concentrated efforts to appeal to the group.

But what about beer?

Consider this: the percentage of drinking-age adults who are Hispanic is expected to reach 23 percent in 2030 and 30 percent by 2050, according to Census data. Currently, 38 percent of Hispanics indicate they consume craft beer, but there’s growth potential, since 55 percent of Hispanics say they drink imported beer that would fall under brands like Tecate or Corona.

So when it comes to the country’s fastest-growing consumer demographic, who may be best tailored to reach their beer-related needs? Craft beer, of course.

I note this for two reasons:

  1. Hispanics are “typically community-oriented” and like to forge strong ties. This makes them loyal consumers to a brand they feel they can identify with and trust, even if they have to pay more for it.
  2. Word of mouth is today’s social and commercial currency, especially when it comes to beer. For beer drinkers, 46 percent found favorite brands through friends or family.

All those online sites we use to create our collective groupthink of beer? Well, they kind work. This is besides the impact our close social groups have on us.

In a basic way, there may be direct lines we can draw between a this growing consumer group with expendable income … who are gaining interest in craft beer … who value opinions of friends … whose opinions matter. How do local or regional breweries who lack ad budgets grow? Word of mouth.

On the flip side, Big Beer is already looking to ways to best tap the Hispanic market, with Constellation Brands, owner of Corona, announcing a roll out of Corona draft. This creates another way of selling the classic Mexican beer, which is most popular among Hispanics.


The role and importance of women in the growing beer industry has been portrayed in all sorts of ways ad nauseum. I have no interest in rehashing arguments I think are silly, but only want to reinforce the importance of women as a growing market for beer companies.

The Pink Boots Society and Girls Pint Out are just the tip of the iceberg that showcases women as 25 percent of U.S. beer consumers (in 2012) and that’s a number that’s certainly already grown:

“More often than not, I find that women I talk to are searching for more flavor out of their beer, as well as more aroma and texture,” says Stevie Caldarola, founder and president of Ladies of Craft Beer, an online magazine and forum.

Slowly but surely, beer is becoming the go-to beverage for women, 26 percent of whom named beer as their favorite alcoholic beverage in September 2013 vs. 24 percent in 2012. This fits in well with the growth of craft beer, which offers a wide range of new brands and flavor choices, of which women are interested in trying:

As more options show up on shelves and in bars, women are more likely than men to say they were drinking more beer due to “finding new brands” (39% of women vs. 36% men) and “finding new flavors” (38% of women vs. 31% of men).

In an industry that is built around asking a customer to take a risk – try a new beer brand, try a new style – women are perfect for craft because they’re not as risk averse as us curmudgeonly men. When Big Beer brands like MillerCoors or AB InBev make their living off the same beers or new brands of a slightly tweaked recipe, it’s craft that has the most to gain.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet, as there is still a lot of ground to cover.

Putting Together the Beer Puzzle series

Related: The United States of Hopiness: A State of the IPA

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close