Anheuser-Busch Cos., the United States’ biggest beer maker, next month plans to roll out Peels, a line of fizzy, alcoholic fruit drinks in such flavors as strawberry with passion fruit and cranberry with peach. The St. Louis company recently invited editors at some of the nation’s top women’s magazines for free manicures and facials at a Manhattan spa, where they sampled the drinks.
The products are backed by a barrage of ads aimed at women. In the past two years, Diageo PLC, Pernod-Ricard SA and Mark Anthony Group, the maker of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, all have run commercials on the top U.S. cable programs among 18- to 24-year-old women, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.
Promoting alcohol to women is even more intense in the United Kingdom. In the past two years, 81 new versions of premixed bottled drinks such as Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Breezers have hit U.K. shelves, including a diet version of Bacardi Breezers launched last summer. Sometimes called “alcopops,” because they resemble alcohol-spiked soda pop, the drinks first took off in the U.K. in the early 1990s before becoming a world-wide hit for the industry. Global sales of alcopops were $22.7 billion last year, up 6 percent from 2004 and more than triple the level of 1997, according to market-research group Euromonitor.
In targeting women, alcohol firms are taking a page from tobacco companies, which for years tried to lure more female smokers with female-friendly “smooth,” flavored and mild-tasting cigarettes, and ads conveying an aura of refinement and independence.