Marketing Craft Beer To Women, For Women, By Women

With nearly 40 percent of craft beer consumption coming from females, Connecticut’s Willimantic Brewing Company — where the staff is more than 33 percent women — came up with a marketing strategy for 2017, calling it “Women’s Year For Beer.”

The concept, said Willibrew’s Marketing Coordinator, Karen Gilbransen, came from guessing that at least half of the brewery’s guests are female.

“It’s an exciting time to be a woman in the craft beer industry — we’re brewing it, promoting it, and most assuredly enjoying it,” she said. “With that in mind, we thought it would be fun to add events where we could partner with women in the industry.”

That includes events at the brewery with CT Girls Pint Out, the Pink Boots Society, Cicerones and women-owned breweries and brewers. It will be adding events throughout the year including Craft Beer 101’s, a Cooking with Beer session and a cheese and beer pairing. Events will be listed on the brewery’s website.


“I don’t know that we’re hosting events that are more appealing to women so much as saying to our female guests “Hey friends! Here are some opportunities that we think you’d enjoy,’” Gilbransen said. “Instead of attempting to host events that would be more appealing to women, we’re speaking to women directly and inviting them to join us in some fun opportunities.”

Some events include introducing four Ladies Who Brew sessions which will feature groups on women learning the brewing process with the brewery’s Master Brewer, David Wollner.

Also, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each beer will be donated to the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut’s Women and Girl’s Fund to keep with the theme.

Five years ago, when Gilbransen took over as Marketing Coordinator at Willibrew she said she was often disappointed to see advertising from craft breweries that seemed to objectify women.

“Any pandering that was done seemed geared to the male craft beer consumer despite the fact that we already knew that women were enjoying craft beer and there was only room for growth,” she said. “I’m happy to say that I’ve noticed a positive shift in that department but there’s always room for improvement.

“My take on it is that the best marketing for beer or a brewery is to highlight the product on its merit.”

Gilbransen noted that based on the initial response to the announcement of the series, area consumers are loving the idea and are very excited about it. She added that a representative from the Community Foundation said the series gives a “wonderful happy energy” every time the events have been discussed.

Photos provided by Jeffrey Maynard

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