Friday, September 04, 2009

Beer for girls

As I was perusing that dangerous spot at Whole Foods, past the kale, where cheese, beer, and huge chunks of dark chocolate meet, and where I'd already succumbed to the temptation of the $9.99 'for Whole Foods' Camembert, a tall, glamorous woman came up to me and said she noticed I was looking at the beers, which at that point I was, and then asked if I was interested in trying an Alsatian beer she was giving tastes of. I don't know whether it was that the offer came at the end of an exhausting few weeks of apartment-hunting, or that the beer samples were being offered alongside cheese samples, but this time, 'no' didn't seem an option.

She poured me a thimble of beer small enough that even my ultra-sensitive Jewish alcohol-tolerance didn't register it, but large enough that I could tell that whatever it was was quite good, as was the Parmesan chunk offered with it, as is, no doubt, traditionally done in Alsace. The drink, alas, didn't much taste like beer, which decided me against it before I learned that the price would have done so regardless.

As I was sipping, she told me how this beer is made the same way as Champagne (?), doesn't really taste like beer (true enough), and is thus a favorite of "girls" who don't like beer. I found it odd that the beer marketer would opt for this particular argument, given that she'd approached me on account of I was already looking at beer. Or maybe she thought I was considering buying the beer for some Big Manly Male, and that perhaps I myself would like a $20-plus six-pack of my own, to sip daintily while he watches the game? Or maybe (OK, clearly) this was just her line - the fact that the brand representative launched into the very same speech when handing a thimble to a different woman supports this hypothesis. Because I had too many bags with me to extract the iPod and listen to podcast #10,000 interviewing Frank Bruni about how Europe wonderful Europe cured his eating neuroses, I spent the entire walk back overanalyzing the gendered-beer incident with the hopes of getting a blog post out of it. But it was nevertheless jarring to be at the epicenter of politically-correct grocery shopping and to hear such a dated notion presented as unchallenged fact.


Anonymous said...

In some ways I think the most interesting part was that this babe was working in the free-sample job. I was given a sample Chardonnary couple of weeks ago, also, by a woman of striking good looks (and wearing a neckline that absolutely caught my attention) - usually someone with looks like that can get an ornamental-receptionist job at worst, leaving the free-samples work to people whose looks are not so striking. I think it's the economy. dave.s.

PG said...

Was it lambic? I dislike beer, but my husband got me to drink that, and it is in a very technical sense considered beer. Amp up the girliness with the Alamo Drafthouse version: Lindemann's framboise + Young's double chocolate stout.

PG said...

Also, I had a idea for an advertising campaign that is premised on the reverse of the psychology you've shown:

When my husband has me try his beers and asks me what I think, I generally say, "It tastes like beer" (i.e., bad). It occurred to me recently that that could make for a good ad campaign for a beer getting newly introduced in the U.S.: Have a mixed group out for drinks, and a guy drinking a bottle of New Product. A girl flirting with him while drinking a cosmo asks, "Can I try your beer?" He looks skeptical and hands it over. She drinks and says, "Ew, too... beery."

A British/ German/ whatever New Product's nation of origin -accented voiceover says: "New Product. It tastes like beer."

My husband pointed out that this threatens to lose half the market, which no ad campaign for beer ever wants to do, but I said that it would work on the very large part of the female population that doesn't want to be thought of as the "girly girl" and that will think "Ha, I'll show you, sexist beer commercial maker! I can totally drink any beer a guy can!"

Britta said...

That seems pretty stupid, if someone tried to sell beer by telling me it didn't taste like beer, I wouldn't buy it just on principle, but then I am very ornery. I grew up drinking beer with my family (well, after I was reasonably old enough to drink, around 17 or so) and never saw it as a gendered drink, but I spent about a year in Australia where beer is pretty much only consumed by men, women drink Mike's hard lemonade-type beverages.

In terms of stupid marketing aimed at women, my boyfriend used to serve free samples of wine in a wine shop, and one day he had to serve this low-carb wine in a pink bottle, and part of the talk was that it was "non-fat." It tasted awful and had a ridiculous bottle, but a surprising number of women were into it. (Of course, as a manly beer-drinking, red wine loving woman, what do I know.)

Anonymous said...

Kottke points to: the Hot Waitress Index.