A study into female attitudes and behaviours towards beer by women and beer interest group, Dea Latis, reveals that women would switch to beer if it wasn’t associated with pints, bloating and sexist imagery and reinvented itself, as gin has done in recent years, with added elegance, better glassware and a premium serve.
In a follow up to The Gender Pint Gap, published last year, The Beer Agender explores in more detail the opinions and attitudes of women; their perceptions of beer – the product, the service, the drinkers, and the world it inhabits.
The Beer Agender includes revealing quotes from the women who took part in the research that showed women can often be their own harshest critics. With only 17% of women drinking beer regularly* the report shows that they are still influenced by the complex attitudes and imagery associated with men and beer.
The Beer Agender reports that:
- the image of beer and its advertising is often associated with beer-swilling men in pubs;
- the typical female beer drinker is someone who doesn’t care too much about what other people think of her or is a woman who doesn’t care too much about what she thinks of herself;
- the bloat factor is a major consideration and feeling tight across the belly and burping is a big barrier to drinking beer on a night out;
- women definitely don’t want a ladies-only beer and want to move beyond volume to focus more on beautiful glassware and lighter, more golden beers;
- they want tastings as standard, with glasses and packages of beer that are smaller than a half pint, but with more interest and more flavours;
- and that matching types of food with beer is an attractive proposition for women but they need to taste, sample, inspired and enticed.
The report’s co-author, beer sommelier and Dea Latis director Annabel Smith said: “This year’s report illustrated that many women in this country still have some ingrained deep-seated beliefs and perceptions about beer. And many of these are not positive. Women don’t want a beer made for women. Women just want the beer and pub industry to look at things from their perspective, and reconsider how beer is presented and positioned to them.”
The Beer Agender suggests that brewers and retailers should take these issues on board and stop dwelling on past beliefs. It concludes that women who drink beer are relaxed and happy and fun and in control and generally comfortable within their own skin and it should be this confident woman that other women aspire to be.
Jaega Wise, Head Brewer for Wild Card Brewing in Walthamstow, London commented on the report, saying: “This report is important for the health and growth of the beer industry in the UK. Many factors, long suspected in the complicated relationship between women and beer, specifically in the UK, have been confirmed with this thorough research. There is a huge amount of work for the beer industry to do to overcome outdated stereotypes facilitated by decades of damaging advertising.”
*The Gender Pint Gap survey conducted by YouGov
The Dea Latis survey was conducted using a qualitative approach that involved facilitating a two hour ‘beer event’ in Sutton Coldfield, along with eight paired in-depth interviews held in Manchester and Watford.
During the beer event, participants were given an opportunity to try several beers and were also asked to come up with their own ideas around encouraging more women to drink more beer.
The follow-up paired in-depth interviews gave us a chance to probe further on some issues which emerged in the beer event, as well as finding out more about the real reasons women choose beer less frequently than they might.
The sample for the beer event and in-depth interviews was deliberately split by age, social grade, life-stage and beer usership, this to partly reflect the sample from the first report undertaken.
The Beer Agender research and report was funded by a grant from the Brewing and Education Fund run by The Worshipful Company of Brewers.
The Gender Pint Gap in 2018 reported that currently, only 17% of women drink beer at least once a week (compared to 53% of men) and male oriented advertising is the main barrier to over a quarter (27%) of women drinking beer – rising even higher for the 18-24 year-old female group to almost half (48%).
A fifth of women (20%) find the thought of calories in beer and putting on weight to be the biggest reason for not drinking beer and 17% of women feel that ‘being judged by others’ is the third biggest barrier to drinking beer.
Taste is the great divide: Of the women who drink beer 56% do so because they like the taste; conversely, of the women who never drink beer 83% do so because they don’t like the taste.
What stood out most was that female attitudes towards beer have not changed much since the last major survey in 2009.