The Asda beer buyers

21 September, 2007

Name: CJ Antal-Smith

Job: Buying manager for beer

Company: Asda

Since: April 2005

Career: Supermarket buying, including frozen and bakery

Favourite beer: Leffe Blonde

Name: Jill Wilson

Job: Buyer, ales & ciders

Company: Asda

Since: September 2006

Career: Asda graduate scheme, buying for fortified wines and RTDs

Favourite cider: Frome Valley Dry cider

CJ Antal-Smith says:

Is it still a man's world for beer and brewing?

They are perceived as a man's world, but I do think the market is changing. Camra launched a campaign for real ale to be more targeted at women, after its research showed only one-quarter of women had drunk cask ale in a pub. Beer advertising is still very much aimed at men, and the brewing industry as a whole is very much male dominated. I have one female account director out of the vendors I deal with currently. However, some new product development is targeted more at women, such as Kronenbourg Blanc and Beck's Green Lemon.

How can brewers and suppliers appeal more to women?

Women tend not to buy in bulk and ­prefer to buy single bottles or four-packs that can be drunk over a few nights. ­Education is key, and women usually go for more specialised or lighter beers.

More information about the taste of the beer and what food it would go with would be useful - to hook them in as is done with wine - such as ­magazine articles ­educating women about beers and their different flavour profiles.

In terms of the brewers, I don't think a lot of their advertising helps to draw women into beer. Foster's, for example, is heavily aimed at men, with the woman's bust shading the man's pint. And Carlsberg's "perfect flatmate" is the good-looking woman who provides the beer and does the cooking!

Some brewers do try to target women in their advertising - the Leffe print advertising that was in Sunday supplements is feminised and focuses more on the association of food and flavours, and the Artois chalice glass gets over the male image of a pint, making it more continental.

Are you doing anything in store to appeal more to women?

We are launching an activity set aimed at educating the customer on the different beer profiles and types, and food-matching. We also have a website, which will simplify the shopping experience and help both men and women to shop the fixture more confidently.

How can retailers draw women into the category?

Stock more easy-drinking world lagers. When Sol, Corona and Dos Equis launched with the theatre of the lime in bottle, the majority of consumers were female because it made the beer more palatable and had a lighter taste. Brewers should also see the value of sampling. When we launched Peeterman Artois in February with full in-store support, more than 400,000 customers sampled it, with repeat purchase at 23 per cent. S&N's Biggest Round activity also helps target more females, with the emphasis on ­Sirrus and Kronenbourg Blanc.

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