Pink, glitter, ‘mummy wine time’… how the ways marketers sell drinks to women can be patronising – and damaging.T
This story is from an episode of Woman’s Hour from the BBC World Service. It was presented by Jenni Murray, produced by Rabeka Nurmahomed, and edited by Sarah Crawley. Adapted for text by Bryan Lufkin. For more from Woman’s Hour, click here.
Blue means boy, pink means girl. Gendered signals like these begin the second we’re born and continue through the course of our lives. From childhood to adulthood, marketers use gendered stereotypes and tropes to convince us to buy their products – and it does seem to work. A 2018 study conducted in New York City found women are willing to pay up to 13% more for the same goods as men – from personal care products to health products – if they are rebranded to target women specifically.
In recent years, one sector in particular has turned its eyes on female buyers: the alcohol industry. “Chick beer” comes in pink packaging with fewer calories. Pastel cocktails dazzle on Instagram to woo women drinkers. Booze with the name “Mummy’s Time Out” targets mums starved for happy hour. And even clothing stores are cashing in, offering T-shirts with slogans like “wine time” drawn in whimsical calligraphy.
Alcohol abuse prevention organisations, health bodies and news outlets have all have flagged the fact that more women are drinking at unhealthy levels, as well as a rise in female binge drinking and alcohol-related deaths. Yet it’s not clear their message is being heard amid a barrage of female-oriented alcohol advertising.
So how exactly are manufacturers targeting women?
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The opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the FASD Prevention Conversation Project, its stakeholders, or funders.