Are New Wine Brands Targeting Women Low on Substance?


Does the wine industry really know what women want? Not according to writer Elin McCoy, as she wrote recently in an article on  

According to the new “girly-wine” brand marketers, women wine drinkers want to be super-skinny, to toss their hair playfully as they choose their bottles to match moods, not foods. They also crave an easy-sipping flavor profile with a naughty edge of sweetness.

In the past few years the wine world has finally discovered that women drinkers are a coveted customer niche, which isn’t rocket-science since women represent nearly 60% of U.S. wine consumers, according to the Beverage Information Group’s 2011 Wine Handbook.

Most wine marketers are targeting women 21 to 34, but their efforts often treat this audience as if it had no more sophistication than a bevy of sorority sisters on spring break.

Barbara Insel, president of St. Helena, California-based wine consulting firm Stonebridge Research, says men’s and women’s motivations are very different. “In focus groups, women say they buy wine to go with food, to relax, to drink with friends, to have fun.” Men, on the other hand, “say they drink for health, but off the record, they admit they buy wines that will impress their friends.”

The Middle Sister wine brand reflects this lifestyle approach, according to Mary Ann Vangrin, one of its three partners. She says women look for wines that offer an emotional connection.
Its 10 sassy-style wines have personality-profile names like Drama Queen (pinot grigio), Smarty Pants (chardonnay) and best-selling Rebel Red (a blend). All share a “flavor-phobic” house style.

“Women don’t want a wine that bites back. They like ripe, fruit-forward wines without a lot of tannin and oak,” says Vangrin. She should know: Middle Sister regularly solicits feedback from its 115,000 Facebook friends. NB: I took a look at the Middle Sister Facebook Page and this number is slightly off-base. It’s more like 27,000+. Still impressive…

Click here for the full article from

My Thoughts…

I like the basic argument Elin McCoy is putting forward, but I don’t think it should be argued this isn’t what women want. The Middle Sister brand still have a larger online following than 99.9% of other wineries on the market, so they must be getting something right!
On the other-hand, Facebook followers are still just kind-of a “vanity metric,” much in the same way as the 500,000 people that “like” the Facebook Page: Puberty is going to hit Justin Bieber harder than Chris Brown hit Rhianna. A “like” takes 2 seconds. It’s what you do with that fan base after you get them there that counts!

I would still like to offer a rebuttal to Elin’s article…

There’s no doubt that women are smart (most of the time smarter than men), but if anything I applaud these wine brands for their creative marketing efforts. I wish them all the best!
If a female wine buyer isn’t suitably impressed with the wine after they’ve been “subliminally” talked into buying it through the power of the marketing, they won’t purchase it again. Right?

Do these types of brands have longevity in the market? No, I don’t think so. They’re a cool gimmick, but are most often low on substance (both inside and outside the bottle).
Are these types of wine brands a fad? No ma’am! They’re going to be around for quite some time. Probably not these particular brands, but marketers will no doubt find another way to give women what they supposedly want.

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