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Guinness for girls: the stout shakes off its ‘rugby lad’ image

Get Kim Kardashian to drink it and you’re on to a winner; celebrity endorsements and the expansion into alcohol-free are driving demand for Diageo-owned Guinness among young women, says chief executive.

Instagram @guinness; @selentanyer

Diageo has recorded a 24% rise in the number of women drinking Guinness in Great Britain, according to chief executive Debra Crew, shrugging off what she describes as its “rugby lad” image.

“We are seeing more and more Guinness drinkers that are women,” she said, according to The Telegraph, noting she has witnessed this first hand in pubs.

“It looks kind of intimidating, right? And it did come from this kind of rugby lad culture. And yet I think when women find that they try it, actually it’s lighter than what they think it’s going to be.”

Celebrity green light

Seeing a picture of Kim Kardashian sipping on a pint of the black stuff is sure to up sales. The reality TV star posted an Instagram story in March last year of herself holding a pint of Guinness and a shot in a pub in London — a sign that the image of the drink is shifting.

And from Kimmy K to the Princess of Wales; Kate Middleton was also spotted with a pint of ebony nectar in hand during a visit to Ireland.

Drew said of the celebrity endorsements: “You know, you see people like Kim Kardashian all the sudden drinking Guinness when she’s in London, or Kate Middleton – these things catch on and especially in the social media world.”

Social stir

On the topic of social media, TikTok may also have been a factor in lifting the pint’s popularity among a broader audience.

During the summer of 2023, the hashtag ‘#giantwoman’ began trending, with TikTokers creating an optical illusion with a pint of Guinness to make themselves look like giants. (You may have to see it to believe it.)

@jasmainfarara Replying to @SHRIMPLET your wish is our command #giantwoman #guiness ♬ A giant woman – Pink

Drew stressed that the added social media buzz has broadened appeal, rather than shifting it from one group of consumers to another. ““The rugby lads still like it,” she said. And indeed, the brand has sponsored the six nations since 2019.

No- and low-alcohol drinks continue to rise in popularity, and Guinness was an early adopter, launching its 0.0 beer in 2020. After recalling the drink in the UK just a month later due to a risk of microbial contamination, in July 2023 Diageo increased Guinness 0.0 production by almost 300% following a €25 million investment into its St. James’s Gate site.

Despite some bumps in the road, Drew argued that the non-alcoholic version has also helped to broaden appeal. “Say you go into a pub and maybe your first Guinness is regular Guinness, but maybe you want to stay a little bit longer and it’s a Tuesday, maybe you get a Guinness 0.0,” she said.

Diageo is clearly hopeful about the future of its biggest beer brand, but the company has seen disappointing results this year. As predicted in its November profits warning, Diageo’s results for the six months to the end of December were poor. Worse, they fell short of analysts’ predictions even after the warning. Read more on that story here.

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