A spokesperson said: ”We have conducted a full review of the performance of Animée Beer and have taken the decision to exit this brand from the market in line with key customer range reviews.
“Molson Coors remains committed to continuing to innovate as one way we’ll add value to our customers’ business and build the beer category.
“However, not all brands are successful in market and it’s important we invest in growing brands where there is a great proposition that works well for our customers and our consumers.”
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that there’s been a simply enormous amount of celebrating going on at Cole Towers upon hearing this news, along with plenty of laughing and a rather unedifying amount of schadenfreude too.
But, despite the fact that I’d happily dig a big hole to bury any remaining stock with my own two hands, there’s also a serious side to this, and it’s that I hope Molson Coors and other big brewers, like Carlsberg which launched the equally doomed Eve, have learnt their lesson.
But I won’t hold my breath.
You see the mind-set of the big brewer is that there HAS to be a way to create a brand that acts like a silver bullet to fix all that they’ve broken over the last 40 years.
But instead of utilising brands with heritage and provenance, like Worthington White Shield or even Boddingtons or Bass which is where the market has been heading for last 10 years or so, there’s this frantic desire to ‘innovate’.
Which I find an immensely baffling point of view, and one that leads me to wonder at times how some of these people run a bath, let alone a business.
The numbers are very clear that craft beer is where the category is making its biggest gains, not just in attracting women but also a much younger demographic.
Personally, I strongly believe it’s because, as a community and an industry, artisan beer engages with its consumers on a very personal basis.
I understand that it’s easier for them to do that, but I also think that a lot of the success of the craft sector is that most of the brewers don’t tell people they should be enjoying their products, they just encourage them to do so – come one, come all, if you like tasty stuff!
It’s very much the approach of: “We’ve got all these flavours to play with, you might like some but, hey, if you don’t, just hang out, it’s cool…”
Rather than advertising campaigns that make it clear that if you aren’t ‘in the gang’ then you’re simply not cool and you never, ever hear about the key flavour characteristics, unless it’s something like ‘crisp’ or ‘refreshing’.
Although, in fairness that’s because when you talk about something like Corona you’re probably not going to tell the truth and say: “It’s like a bouncy castle farted in your bottle” or possibly just “Clear glass, because the beer simply isn’t worth it”.
And of course there’s Carling Zest… and they aren’t alone, San Miguel has bought out Fresca, which is basically the same thing…
Which also brings me to the second part of the statement and where my general suspicion that there is more patronising clap trap on the horizon comes from:
“Animée was only one part of our plan to attract more female drinkers to beer, and attracting female drinkers remains a priority to get the category back into growth. We’ve found that some of our brands, such as Coors Light, Corona and Carling Zest, already attract a higher proportion of female drinkers.”
Argh! Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, light and, having tried both the Carling Zest and the Fresca I can confidently say, nastily flavoured beers are not the way forward!
Firstly, how can any of these big international companies, not see that they are permanently painting themselves into the same corner, again and again?
This type of beer does not engender brand loyalty – by its very bland and inoffensive nature people will flit from brand-to-brand dependent on price promotion and availability in-store or in-fridge.
And nor does it have any depth of complexity or interest, that makes it into a stepping stone into the wider world of beer, where intensity of flavour, artisan values and a geniune engagement with the consumer like they are intelligent happens (Psst, I mean like Sharp’s, that you paid £20m for… just in case you’ve forgotten about them down there!).
Which leads me onto my second point, Corona and Carling are also not the types of beers that are going to encourage many of the 28.3 million people who regularly drink wine in the UK to swap their grapes for some grain.
Put simply why would these consumers, who are drinking high-alcohol, complex products with bagfuls of aroma and flavour, want to dumb down to brands that are either thin, watery, inappropriately packaged in clear glass or ‘with a hint of natural zest’ – or all of the above?
Have you looked at the wine market by any chance? It took me five minutes on the phone to the very pleasant and helpful Natasha at Wine Intelligence to discover that of the 28.3million people who regularly drink wine, which is 58% of the population it’s 49% male vs 51% female, which is also a direct reflection of the population’s make up.
I would hazard, on the opposite side of the coin from taste and flavour, that this has more than a little to do with the fact that apparently it’s extremely rare that wine brands will do gender-specific marketing and that it has learnt that it rarely works when it’s been tried on an overt scale.
So, are we going to see more ‘female beer’ nonsense in the future? I think the answer is sadly yes.
But maybe it at least won’t be the second largest beer producer in the country, which I hope has sat down and had a stern talk with itself about the meaning of irony after the marketing director said of the launch of Animee “it’s important when launching a female beer not to be too patronising”.
No one likes to be pigeon-holed… it’s not a gender specific thing, it’s just self-respect.*I have written previously about Animée here and here if you are interested in going back over those articles, I’ve been told they are quite funny rants in places if nothing else!