The failure of Animee beer, explicitly targeted at women, shows the perils of explicitly positioning yourself to a niche target and becoming what I call a "ghetto brand". Thanks to Matt Willifer of WCRS for his great article in Marketing on this case.
1. Mixing up positoning and portrayed targets
As Matt rightly says, "most brands make money from outside their core target, especially if this target is a category niche." The example he gives is Continental lagers with a core target of sophisticated 35-44 olds, but sourcing lots of volume from unsophisticated 18- to 24-year-olds."
So, even if Animee's core positioning target was the 77% of UK women who say they never or seldom drink beer, the brand also needed to appeal to men, who consume 87% of beer. By explicitly portraying the brand users as being a woman, the brand risked becoming a "ghetto" brand where most category users don't want to go.
2. Mixing up stimulus and response
Animme also mixed up the response we want and the stimulus to get this. Getting more women to drink beer (response) doesn't need you to say "We're a beer for women" (stiumulus). Rather, the key is to find a relevant benefit that appeals to women, and then execute this in a unisex fashion. Clues on how to do this could come from looking at the Spanish market, where 44% of beer is consumed by women. Here, beer is seen as a light, refreshing drink for mixed sex groups to consume.
Matt quotes the example of the Kopparberg cider brand that he says is drunk by men and women. He suggest that has been achieved by "an emphasis on wonderful design, and an activation platform based on the unisex gig-scene." These attributes appeal to women, but also men.
Linked to the points above is the need to see the benefit, not just the target. Well established brands, especially in the luxury sector, might be succeed by just showing aspirational users of the brand. But for new brand like Animee launching into a competitive market, a more compelling product story was needed. As beer writer Melissa Cole rightly said here, "Animee was always doomed to failure. We do not need to make a beer for women, we need to make beer more accessible for women."
In conclusion, Animee reminds us of the need to meet the needs of the core target whilst still appealing to a broader groups of brand users, to avoid becoming a ghetto brand.