Chick Beer Founder Shazz Lewis Dishes on Making Girly Brews

chick beer.jpg
Chick
No boys allowed

Truth be told, we're a little wary of alcoholic beverages marketed exclusively to women. So when we read about Chick, a just-released beer marketed at the female demographic, we were skeptical at best. What's wrong with regular beer? So we called up founder Shazz Lewis to learn more about her girlie brew, and why, exactly, women need their own beer.

How did you come up with the idea for Chick?

It's actually an idea I was working on for well over two years. My husband owns a wine and spirits store in Easton, Maryland. One day, I was looking at the beer cooler -- and we have over 400 beers -- but there was nothing that shouted out "female." As a woman and mother of five daughters, I'm focused on that sort of thing. [That notion] kept kind of festering and then I did the research. Women consume 25 percent of all the beer in the United States. That's 700 million cases a year. I thought, "This is really interesting, and why hasn't this segment of the market been addressed?" The more I got involved, the more I thought, "There's something to this."

Was it hard breaking into the marketplace?

The more I delved into the beer industry the more I understood it. It's almost exclusively male-dominated. I can tell you anecdotally we've had over 50 meetings with brewers and distributors and I didn't encounter any other women.

What was the inspiration for Chick's packaging?

I knew I wanted to make it stand out. There was no sense of going halfway. I wanted to use pink and black and do something extremely iconic [by depicting it using an image of] a purse and a little black dress. I wanted it to be fun and sexy and I wanted people to have a good time with it. Beer's about fun. And because I think globally, I knew right away that I wanted to be able donate some money from the sales to charities that empower women.

Who actually produces the beer?

I knew I needed it not to be a gimmick. The beer had to be good. I looked at who was drinking most of the beer and the target market is really 21- to 35-year-old women. The ones who were out at night partying and getting together with friends. What they were drinking was American light lagers. We looked for brewers and tasted lots of beer and went with Minhas in Wisconsin. The beer they brew for us has 97 calories and 3.5 carbs but also a very mellow beer flavor. It has a very rounded, full flavor. People say, "I can't believe this is a light beer." So then all those things started going together and we got it brewed in June and launched in Maryland.

Can we expect to see the beer in New York anytime soon?

It's just in Maryland now since it's our backyard and we wanted to hire our own brand reps to go in, but people are really embracing it. It's funny, too, though -- men love the beer. They just say, "We'll pour it in a glass." We've always looked at this as being a national brand and we think it has the legs to go anywhere. We're seeking out distributors wherever.


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53 comments
missrogue
missrogue

I heart this idea. At first I was skeptical, but the more I think about it, the more I love it. (I think the fact a 61 yr-old woman is behind it helps) I want to try it.

Shelleymarks
Shelleymarks

It's about time! Go for it,can't wait to try :-) luv the look! My 2 favorite colors.Where can I get it? Thx-again'    

Hazel
Hazel

As a woman who enjoys the complex flavors of beers, from the chocolate/coffee of a nice stout, or the lovely hops in an IPA, I am frankly insulted by this beer.  Let's dumb it down for the chicks is the message this ends out to women across the country.  We do not need a girly beer, we need to teach women the art of beer, to respect and appreciate the wonderful assortment of beers across the country.  We don't need a dumb down version of a beer to drink beer.  Now pardon me while I go enjoy a Golden Monkey by Victory.

MSO
MSO

Apparently, gimmicks like this can sell beer. Here's a perfect example: http://bit.ly/BonerBeer . Go ahead - have fun with all of the tag lines you can think of for that! They already have some of the biggest distributors in the country marketing for them. It's gaining traction, especially on college campuses and with the Hooters-type crowd. Houston Chronicle: http://bit.ly/nJWtRG

PghBeerGuy
PghBeerGuy

We have plenty of "Chicks" in Pittsburgh that drink beer that's not in a pretty pink bottle. They even drink beer that has flavor & makes them burp. We love our Pittsburgh ladies of craft beer http://www.post-gazette.com/pg...

Dikla Tuchman
Dikla Tuchman

Let's see...I've not tried getting 2 comments through on here, and for some reason the administrator doesn't want approve them? I haven't said any swear words, I promise. I'm not sure why this would be the case, other than just an oversight or what?

Anyway, I would encourage people here and elsewhere (check out my blog post on this article here: http://wp.me/p14jDy-bC) to continue to discuss this, as it really is a much bigger issue that just, "Hey this person knows nothing about me (a strong, cognitive female)  or the beer I want to drink"

Special thanks to Ginger Johnson and the work she does. Your site is fantastic and I applaud your comment on here.

Brewery guy
Brewery guy

Not really sure about this. I certainly understand that most of the advertising from macro breweries is heavily focused on men with a tendency to objectify woman. I also agree that there  seem to be more men than woman involved directly in brewing. However I want to bring up a couple of point. First of all beer production, on the craft scale at least, is driven by manual labor. Im not defending this fact but I do know that any industry based in manual labor will tend to have more men than woman. However I also have met several amazing woman in this industry and though there are fewer of them, I feel like they have been just as welcomed and respected for their knowledge and hard work. I also have to say that I have not yet encountered an instance of sexual discrimination in the craft beer community. Not saying it dosn't happen but this industry seems more progressive than others, that's why I like it. Our brewery is owned and run by a woman, and one of our neighboring brewery's head brewer is a woman. Ive never noted an interest from eather of them in making beer for woman. They want to make beer for people, and thus these breweries have a wide range of styles for differing tastes. If a woman wants to make a product to further woman's standing in this world, thats great! But Im not sure this product dose that. Im afraid that it might serve to isolate woman, or further a stereotype that what they really want is something pink, cutesy or light. I feel like one of the goals in woman's liberation was to breakdown walls between men and woman, and i think maybe this is creating more.

Dikla Tuchman
Dikla Tuchman

It's nice to see that so many of you savy, craft beer drinking ladies out there have your head screwed on to your shoulders. Please read my RESPONSE to this outrageous pile of bull here:

http://wp.me/p14jDy-bC

Cheers and keep fighting the good fight women!

Anon
Anon

The idea of a beer marketed to women is a great idea, but I think she does not know her market.  That looks like she's marketing to my daughter, who is clearly eleven years old.  That label design inspires me to make her some identical party invites tho, the kids will love them.  And low calorie does not a make a feminine product - see Dove Chocolate.   Maybe she could start over with a great rose or lavender brew, adult labeling, ditch the pink.

female
female

Oh my sweet jesus this is so unbelievably offensive to women.  What the hell is wrong with you?!

Alehound
Alehound

LOL, love the Hooters ad that runs on this page!!!

Alehound
Alehound

This is retarded ... real women love real beer, not crappy marketing. What a joke.

Marianne
Marianne

"I needed it not to be a gimmick." 

ummmm

Shannon McNair
Shannon McNair

I'm a chick, I can even be particularly "girly" at times. Most importantly I LOVE beer. Actual beer, not watered down flavorless nonsense. This whole concept insults me and my female beer loving friends. Just make a good craft beer and let the marketing speak to me.

What's next having shirtless male dancers serve it to me? Ok, that I could live with. But only if they are serving full flavored, tasty beer. 

Ginger Johnson
Ginger Johnson

Beer is beer, true. Marketing is not marketing however. You must know your market - starting with what they want, directly from them (your target market). Women Enjoying Beer is the only business on theplanet that does just this. And interestingly enough Shazz called me a several months before the launch to pick my brain - 'brain' being the collected and ongoing research of hundreds and thousands of women who have participated in focus groups all across the USA.

Regardless of what she asked of me and I shared with her from these smart and engaged, brand savvy women, she chose to go forward with her dream. Power to her. No power to the idea. Because whether Shazz likes it or not, the beer isn't about her and what she thinks; it's about what the market wants and will positively respond to. Right now, it's mostly negative and for good reason.

When you don't know your market, when your efforts are misguided, then everything (business) and everyone suffers (customers, people in the company). And if you don't know your market, you have no business aiming your product in their direction. (ever heard of the Della debacle??)

You MUST know your product AND how to respectfully and properly execute the marketing plan that will see it to successful fruition.

Women everywhere equate pink to Barbie, Victoria Secret and Breast Cancer. As a friend in the beer industry said, why would you want to relate a color (pink) per a deadly disease to your product? And as one person commented already, per the 11 year old - she's right. Girly in research indicates 12 and under (age wise). No one in the craft/beer community wants to be seen as marketing to underage drinking.

There is no such thing as a women's beer. Everyone wants the opportunity for flavor, whatever form that may be, and everyone wants to be treated and invited to the product with respect and in a genuine manner. And for the record, not all craft brewers get that either.

Suffice it to say, education is the key. And this is a big mistake and while I wish Shazz well, our research clearly and loudly states that this is insulting, patronizing and headed backwards. Will we see the day when 'men's' beer is marketed in baby blue jockstraps?

Ginger Johnson, founder/operator, Women Enjoying Beer

p.s. I only wish that all the strong opinions out there were also strong enough to be proud fo transparently post their real names. If there's no shame, then there's nothing to hide. Like my good friend maureen Ogle states, "Don't be afraid of your opinions."

Girl beer geek
Girl beer geek

Speaking as a woman and a beer geek, I would NEVER buy this. I find it insulting; beer needs to be lower-calorie and bland tasting in order to appeal to women? I put this in the same category as "coldness indicators" on bottles and other packaging gimmicks. I have noticed that men do tend to prefer hoppier flavor profiles but there are many women, myself included, who love a nice, crisp IPA.

There's no doubt that the major breweries are focused on men, in terms of their products and advertising. However, there are plenty of women involved in the craft brewery scene. Carol Stoudt comes to mind--she's the brewmaster at Stoudt's and makes damn fine beers. In fact, the Philadelphia beer scene is woman-friendly and well-developed.

I buy craft beer every week, either at my local bar or liquor store and I can tell you that i have never felt like I was being excluded due to being a woman. In fact, I can't even think of any objectionable/sexist labels or names I've seen on craft bottles. Flying Dog's Raging Bitch, perhaps, but they have that whole "dog" theme going on. I find the highly-gendered, girly approach much more insulting; it implies that I, as a woman, couldn't possibly be interested in something unless it was swaddled in pink or "low calorie". Because women only really care about their figures, amirite? Heaven forbid taste be a consideration.

For full disclosure, I should mention that I also hate the notion of any light beer and would never drink any beer that focuses on calorie count over taste. Bleh.

Beer style explorer
Beer style explorer

I don't mean to pile on, but this sounds like this company is marketing to 11 year old girls, not to women who live i a world of choice from fine wines to trendy cocktails to Trappist beers and Chocolate stouts.  I agree that beer lables - even craft beer --  often looks like it is marketed to retired engineer dudes or frat boys. However, coming up with the perfect beer for Barbie does not help.  Hope that's helpful market research!

Liz
Liz

So it's Chick beer, you made it all pink and girly, and you knew you wanted it not to be a gimmick?

Okaaaaaaayyy...

Abbykline80
Abbykline80

"Light American Beer"...why do you think so low of women? Would our wombs explode from full bodied lagers? Spontaneously combust from an ipa?

Bex
Bex

i don't even know what to say here.. as a female brewer i'm ashamed that a product like this has entered the market.  just because most breweries ADVERTISE beer for men it doesn't mean that beer is BREWED for men.  beer, especially craft beer is brewed for anyone and everyone that wants to enjoy it.  it's no lie that women do not drink as much beer as men... but let's change that by educating about beer and the benefits of beer, and what makes it AWESOME! let's not interest women in "craft beer" by marketing a low-carb beer in the craft market.  i am truly ashamed.

Guest
Guest

HAAHAHAHAAAAAA XD! Good luck getting women to play along with this horribly sexist and insulting marketing!  WE will NEVER buy this crap!

No Love, a radical feminist from Wisconsin

Greg Koch
Greg Koch

I've read a lot of comment sections over the years, and I must laud the folks (both ladies and gents) for keeping the conversation degrading into expletives, synaptic errors, misspellings and personal attacks (mostly).

IMHO, women's best role in great beer is in great beer.  I think great beer honors all genders and demographics.  If you honor passion in brewing and great taste, you honor the drinker...whomever they are.  If a product is dumbed down in an attempt to appeal to a certain demographic, you honor no one.

View the 3 minute "I Am A Craft Brewer" vid to see some of the actual men and women of craft beer that honor all of us with their great work.  I am proud to be among them.

http://iamacraftbrewer.com/

Cheers,

Greg

FEMALE CRAFT BREWER
FEMALE CRAFT BREWER

beer should be ashamed you are using their name. How dare you dumb down a product because you don't think "women" can handle a REAL beer. Please remove you're self from MY industry! I am a FEMALE BREWER! I make beer for a living and I find you and you're product offensive.

Thorton75
Thorton75

I know what would really help this beer enter the market successfully - if you could find a time machine and go back to 1999 when SATC was a hit and the garishly girly packaging might have made sense.

Pitbullgirl65
Pitbullgirl65

It's funny, too, though -- men love the beer. They just say, "We'll pour it in a glass."

Because Goddess Forbid! What man wants to be seen as an icky disgusting female! It's the same damn reason men get mocked for wearing pink, while women who wear blue? No problem.

Pitbullgirl65
Pitbullgirl65

Oh yay! Cosmo magazine just marketed a beer for us girls!  I will feel like a Princess drinking this!!!! *giggles*   Gee thanks Shazz for yet another gender essentialist marketing ploy product for us wimmins. I'm sick to death of it, for both men and women.  

Ava
Ava

Beer, any kind of beer, is for men and women alike. It's sad to see my brand of beer that I love, have a trashy commercial with girls bouncing up and down, scantily clad. Uh,,, sorry that doesn't turn me on, so, bring on the scantily clad men for my viewing.

Catherine
Catherine

Even if this tastes OK, which I doubt, I wouldn't buy this because of the blatant marketing ploy. Craft beer is not marketed one way or the other, it's for people who like good beer. Go over to Philly for a day or two and you'll meet a dozen women involved in the beer industry.Stop trying to drive a wedge between men and women by highlighting our differences. In my experience, if there's one thing that the sexes can agree on-  it's good beer, and I think we can all agree that this is not one of those beers. 

Katie
Katie

I agree with other posts that this is a problem. I love craft beer, and I have also met craft brewers and not only are there plenty of female brewers, a majority of the male brewers are just as interested in women enjoying their beer as men. This seems like a marketing scheme to me. Stoudt's and Moylan's, for example, would not put purses on their labels just because they are female-run. They just make delicious beer for the sake of the beer being delicious. Saying that the beer industry is male-dominated because women feel uncomfortable burping is like saying science is male-dominated because women don't like math. Luckily, I don't think this beer will catch on. If you like Miller Light, great, drink Miller Light. If you like craft beer, great, drink craft beer. But don't bring gender into this.

Tara
Tara

Ridiculous.  This may have had good intentions, but it's just every frilly, sparkly, pink, girlie stereotype wrapped up in a bottle (is the case really shaped like a purse...?).  I drink a lot of beer, and I'd like to see less sexist, male-focused advertising, and perhaps even more low-cal selections.  But this is not the answer.  This is the drink I would give to a 9 year old girl who wants to be a princess (if it wasn't alcoholic), not a grown woman who would be embarrassed to drink this in public.

Kate
Kate

if you're going to make a beer for women, fine whatever. at least make it look classy.  there are much more subtle ways to say 'female' than gaudy purses and terrible fonts.

Beer Betty
Beer Betty

Speakeasy Sally and Clara have said exactly what I was thinking when I read this. What's wrong with normal beer is that it uses sex to sell (anyone else see that awful "lifeguard training camp" commercial this summer?), so we ladies who enjoy beer tend to drink crafts--that AREN'T marketed specifically for women, but don't make us feel badly about ourselves one way or another for drinking them. Pink-labeled beer that comes in a box that looks like a purse? I might buy it for my sister, who is into all that, but that is not a beer for me. 

Thanks for thinking about women though!!!

Clara
Clara

You got 400 beers in a shop. You like lots of different beers. And you want to give women a choice by adding one beer with a pink label?To me that is reducing choice by steering women away from the wide varieties of beers - not increasing it.

Speakeasy Sally
Speakeasy Sally

I, too, am tired of seeing beer marketed exclusively towards men (with advertising almost always featuring scantily clad supermodels and mockery toward men drinking the competition's "feminine" beer, as if femininity is the ultimate insult!), but I do kind of wish for a little more substance behind the beer itself. Why NOT a craft beer? I don't drink "light" beer... it NEVER tastes good, not like a hearty craft beer. I suppose seeing the ultra-stereotypical "pink, frilly, and SKINNY SKINNY SKINNY" standard of advertising towards women is what makes me feel like this isn't really the step forward I've been looking for when it comes to us beer-drinking women. Well, cheers anyway.

Mattritchey1974
Mattritchey1974

I, personally, feel set back at LEAST 70 years by the mere notion of this beer, which is tough since I'm at best in my late 20s.  Shame on you, Shazz.  No, really.     (Who loves ya?  So, like, am I allowed to drink any?  Soon?)

Muffinman
Muffinman

this looks delicious! anyone know which stores in MD/Baltimore carry it?

Candyritchey
Candyritchey

Way to go, Shazz Lewis! It may be "just beer", but it's sure making a BIG splash!! Women deserve to have some beer brewed especially for them...it's about TIME!!!! Thank you!

Micheinnz
Micheinnz

The plural of woman is womEn. I only comment because it was a teeth-gritting roadblock every time I came across the word "woman" used as a plural, and it detracted from your point.

DinaClare
DinaClare

While I agree with your post, posting with my full name could compromise my safety. There are lots of Johnsons in the world, but I'm the only person in my country with my surname, I'm pretty sure.

Sorry to veer off topic, but there's lots of reasons to go pseudonymous online.

Dikla Tuchman
Dikla Tuchman

Ginger--

Thank you so much for this post. I have spent the good part of the last 13 hours toiling over all this, posting up a storm on my own blog (www.nwpd.wordpress.com), arguing with people over twitter, conversing with my editor and colleagues at www.seattlest.com. It's such a fascinating time to be a woman involved in the craft beer community, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, and I'm almost glad that this has come up; that someone had the balls to think she was doing "us girls" a favor by making something that is now being categorized as beer, yet has not right to be. At any rate, I've ranted enough in many other venues and am pretty much spent for today on the issue. I hope to continue to revisit this with you, my readers, friends, and strangers as we see where this thing goes. I appreciate your work and hope that if anything, more good comes out of this than bad. That Chick flops (which it likely will) and that all that comes to fruition from this ordeal is more organizations like yours. Cheers and keep up the good work!

--Dikla TuchmanPivaDiva, www.seattlest.com

Rockykay
Rockykay

Well said. Because you know, nothing say empowerment than the color pink and curlique fonts. It really is terribly insulting to women as a whole.

LapDogHoney
LapDogHoney

Quite possibly a rich damn fool......

BeerDick
BeerDick

Instead of doubting that it is good, why not wait to pass judgement until you taste it.  Unless you judge all books by their covers and I don't believe either sex should do that.

Beer style explorer
Beer style explorer

"plenty of" means less than one per cent of working brewers, right? Some awesome talent, but it is a male scene.  That said, the "chick" approach is not appealing to this female beer appreciator.

Guest
Guest

how does it look delicious? it's a six pack, it looks like any other six pack? 

Girl beer geek
Girl beer geek

Why on earth do women need beer specifically brewed for them, especially another run of the mill light beer? If you're concerned about calories, there's plenty of options already out there. If you're interested in taste, there's a plethora of styles and varieties out there. It's BEER; make it taste good and everyone will drink it, men and women.

Miche
Miche

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the public.

DinaClare
DinaClare

Why bother when the company's own description of the beer has turned you off entirely?

Beer Newb
Beer Newb

I agree - this is sexist and stereotypical marketing. I'm surprised the tag line isn't "drink our beer and girls will think you are smart and boys will think your soo cute", utter crap - read our full opinion at http://www.beernewb.com/go/467...

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