Anheuser-Busch InBev’s new advertising plan for the Lime-A-Rita flavored malt beverage brand will feature an underserved market in beverage alcohol: women.
The big brewer is marking the five-year anniversary of Lime-A-Rita by announcing a pivot in how it markets the beverage. This year, Lime-A-Rita will be marketed in the U.S. exclusively to women, the first time AB InBev has made such purposeful marketing to that group of consumers.
“Over the past five years, Lime-A-Rita has seen steady growth in its popularity among women, with females currently representing 65% of our consumer base,” said Selena Kalvaria, senior director for Lime-A-Rita. “Knowing that females influence 85% of household buying decisions and currently make up over half of the US population, we saw an opportunity to reinvigorate the category and grow our existing relationship with women by exclusively speaking to them in this year’s “Make it a Margarita Moment” campaign.”
Launched in 2012, Lime-A-Rita was the company’s first foray to blend the beer and cocktail world. Lime-A-Rita was the second-best selling new product launched that year and more flavors were later unveiled to feature strawberry and apple. AB InBev on Monday said this year it would launch five more flavors, including Pine-Apple-Rita Splash and Coco-Nut-Rita Splash.
Gender has always played a major role in how alcoholic beverages are marketed. Historically, beer ads skewed heavily male and were hyper masculine, though in recent years beer marketers have sought to be more inclusive. Beer marketers say they learned that men and women often drink alcohol together at bars and while watching sports on TV, so marketing has evolved to reflect that. Still, sometimes gender-specific marketing is a ploy to lure in new or loyal customers. Pernod Ricard, for example, tried to make #Malibro a social-media trend to get more men to consider the rum.
Kalvaria said that AB InBev opted to market Lime-A-Rita specifically to women after learning that 60% of women don’t believe that marketing depicts them today. “”We spent an incredible amount of time with our female consumers to listen and understand their lives so that we could reflect it authentically,” she added. AB InBev said female marketers and agency partners ultimately steered the direction of the campaign. The campaign, which will include TV and digital ads, features women partying and celebrating a “margarita moment.”
Other beverage alcohol rivals have also sought to market the margarita specifically to women. The most notable example: the Skinnygirl Margarita brand by reality TV star Bethenny Frankel. That brand was one of the first to successfully build a slate of alcohol products that sold itself successfully to female consumers. It is now owned by Beam Suntory.
The new Lime-A-Rita campaign, meanwhile, comes at a time when malt-based ready-to-drink beverages have posted sales declines in recent years. “In an attempt to revive sales, offers such as Bud Light Lime-A-Rita are being positioned as pseudo-cocktails, aimed at beer-weary consumers and the Hispanic population that is acquainted with beer/margarita mixes,” said Anna Ward, alcoholic drinks analyst for research firm Euromonitor International.
That was part of the justification for Lime-A-Rita in the first place: a way to participate in growing consumer interest for spirits, which have taken market share from beer for seven consecutive years. Lime-A-Rita is getting a packaging redesign this year. AB InBev says it took cues from the spirits industry to make it more alluring to that drinker.