Marketing to women: Don’t patronize, please

This label makes me feel more bitchy than happy.

A press release for Happy Bitch Rose just landed in my inbox, and while I have nothing against the wine per se, I’ll probably never find out if it’s any good–and I’ll certainly never recommend it in the wine pairings I write for Cooking Light and Wine Enthusiast.

Why?

Because it’s patronizing. Brands that develop a specific, brand-lite concept that’s dumbed down, (shudder) pink, light, and anti-intellectual say to women, “We don’t think you can handle the real thing, so we’ll create a lame version of a brand for you and hope it flies off the shelves since we talk about how you can get together with your girlfriends and use it while shoe-shopping, waiting in line for the bathroom, and taking your kids to soccer practice.”

In this specific example, marketing research does bear out the fact that a large number of women like sweet, light wines. I suppose the company thought “Happy Bitch” was edgy, but the name gets an F in my gradebook both for its vulgarity and the way it paints women. Sorry, but “bitchy” wine won’t make me plunk down my money or recommend it to my readers. It’s still widely known as an insult, even if the label stands out in the crowded marketplace of wines.

Now, some of this “pink” marketing works, or companies wouldn’t use it. Certain women respond well to labels featuring cupcakes and chocolate, bitchy wines, and the assumption that yogurt is the exclusive domain of females.

But not me.

And not the smart women I know.

4 Comments

  1. I’m sure whatever marketing department created that name thought it was fabulously edgy, but I’m not impressed either. Nice post.

  2. Gretchen,
    Unfortunately you really don’t understand nor want to the brand or what’s in the bottle. Just because it’s pink does not mean it’s sweet. The brand began when the author, Keryl Pesce overheard her husband telling another women he loved her. Devastating yes, but it’s about how she recovered and took hold of her life. Making decisions on what will make her happy and every women needs to do the same. Crap happens to all of us, but it is what we do with it and how we move forward that makes us a ‘Happy Bitch’. The wine is an extension of her book. Made from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir grapes from the Finger Lakes with a little bit of Happy. It is slightly carbonated. Not to sweet and not to dry.

    For you to make those assumptions and not do research on the brand is really a premature comment to make. As a wine blogger myself, I research wines and their history, what goes into producing them, before I make a stand and the stand I take is usually after I taste it.

  3. Debbie, I’m afraid we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I already said I have no problem with the wine per se, but the branding. You may think the brand stands for one thing; I, as a potential consumer, think it stands for something else. The back story of the book becoming the wine brand wasn’t my point, although I’m sorry you’re disappointed in my level of research. The point is that my reaction to the brand isn’t based on research–it’s visceral.

    As to “sweet,” the press release calls the wine “not too sweet and not too dry…soft, fruity finish.” That certainly describes a style of wine many women like. I wasn’t evaluating the wine, nor am I a wine blogger. I did say in my post that this type of brand seems to work with some women. I am not one of them. Best of luck with your wine–and I do say that sincerely.

  4. I completely agree with you Gretchen. There are so many wines that seem to have the name bitch in it, I just don’t get it. Unclear to me why marketers think that the demographic of women wine drinkers (typically dual income households, married, average annual income of >$75K/ person) would like to see themselves as unsophisticated! The question I have is, does it work? Are these brands successful? Would be very interested if you could share any insight.

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