Monday, October 10, 2011

Finding your target audience – the Jim Beam lesson

Jim Beam launched its Red Stag in 2009. This black-cherry infused bourbon was aimed at the male market. The company opted for a strong masculine product name and enlisted rapper Kid Rock to promote it.

Much to the company’s surprise, the drink was a hit with women. Female drinkers appreciated the sweeter taste compared to regular bourbon.

Jim Beam began to investigate. As its global chief marketing officer Kevin George stated: “We wanted to understand the emotional reasons why women drink wine or spirits. While women make up almost half of spirits drinkers, they consume just a quarter of the volume sold.”

As a result, after 216 years of marketing almost exclusively to the male drinks market, Jim Beam is embracing women. The company introduced three new products aimed at female drinkers: Courvoisier Cognac infused with red wine, Pucker vodka and low-calorie Skinnygirl cocktails. Skinnygirl Cocktails, created by American reality TV personality Bethenny Frankel, was purchased by Jim Beam. Since the drinks contain only 100 calories per serving, they are attractive to women wishing to avoid the calories of a typical 480-calorie restaurant margarita.

But also Jim Beam’s existing Sauza Tequila brand benefited from the switch to marketing towards women. As research shows, about 57% of all the Tequila sold in the US is mixed in margaritas. Two-thirds of those margaritas are consumed by women.

Sauza began a marketing campaign based on the idea of a “ladies night in”, hosting at-home margarita parties and advertising on the Food Network. Sauza teamed up with restaurants to create what they called “Sauzaritas”

Based on its success with the female market, Jim Beam is planning to introduce a new line of chocolate liqueurs called “Crave”. The drink will blend flavors such as mint, chili pepper and cherry.

Jim Beam’s marketing story proves that companies should never take their market audience for granted. They should be open to step out their comfort zone and check new opportunities.

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