- Johnnie Walker is introducing a female version of its logo, replacing the traditional top-hatted Johnnie Walker with Jane Walker, according, according to an article on Bloomberg. Parent company Diageo hopes this move will make the scotch more accessible to women consumers.
- The scotch will remain unchanged, but the limited U.S. edition packaging overhaul is part of a broader company push toward gender equality. Diageo announced that its board will be 50% women by April, and that for every bottle of Jane Walker produced, a dollar will be donated to organizations that promote women. 250,000 bottles are slated to be released in March.
- The company holds that women see scotch as intimidating.
Jane Walker is meant to broaden the appeal of Diageo's scotch product, but the company's claim that the alcoholic beverage is "intimidating" to women could spark consumer backlash.
The dust is still settling after PepsiCo's CEO Indra Nooyi announced that the company was developing snacks specifically for women, describing chips without flavor residue and that aren't as noisy to eat. Critics took to Twitter — accusing the mega-brand of sexism.
Still, there are differences between these two developments. PepsiCo was discussing plans to make female-focused versions of formerly unisex products. Johnnie Walker is broadening its brand representation. Secondly, parent company Diageo has tied this launch to an internal promotion of women on its board and public promotion of philanthropic support. This change would appeal to many consumers, not just women, who are increasingly interested in mission-based brands.
It's a smart move to try to appeal to more female drinkers. Cocktails are enjoying a renaissance, likely boosting the percentage of women drinking scotch. In 2016, spirits sales jumped 2.6% in the U.S. Johnnie Walker also had an impressive 2017, growing 18%, largely thanks to this renewed interest in liquor.
The question is how consumers will now react to Jane Walker when the product hits store shelves in March.
An MSRP has not been announced, but that is one detail that could quickly turn public perception against the re-launch. If Jane Walker costs even one penny more than Johnnie Walker, expect social media to quickly point out the "pink tax" women are paying for the same product.
The liquor company is not alone in re-branding to appeal to more female consumers. Actress Mila Kunis has been the main spokesperson for Jim Beam since 2014.
This could be the beginning of a new wave of marketing to acknowledge and appeal to the growing percentage of female scotch drinkers. Or, it may go down with "lady chips" and Bic Pens for Her as products that missed the mark with their target audience.