Posted: Dec 08, 2018
New York CNN Business Constellation Brands is betting that female entrepreneurs will help it grow.
The beer maker said on Thursday that it plans to invest $100 million over the next ten years in businesses led or founded by women.
The strategy is designed to help Constellation Brands (STZ) make and market products that resonate with women, partner with sector disruptors and enhance its talent pipeline.
The project, called Focus on Female Founders, is part of Constellation Brands Ventures, the company's venture capital arm. Companies selected for the program will get funding and mentoring from Constellation Brands.
CBV targets emerging alcohol or alcohol-related brands with "high-potential founders," Mallika Monteiro, chief growth officer for Constellation Brands, told CNN Business.
Focus on Female Founders does the same for companies led by women.
That parameter gives Constellation Brands access to an untapped talent pool, Monteiro said, noting that female entrepreneurs are largely ignored by investors. Plus, women who make innovative alcoholic beverages can help give Constellation "authentic" insight into the types of products women want, Monteiro said.
Constellation already has a broad stable of alcohol brands, from Corona and Modelo beers to Casa Noble tequila, Svedka vodka and a variety of wines. Some of these brands appeal directly to women, like Kim Crawford wine, or attract both men and women, like Corona, Monteiro said.
But Constellation Brands may have to keep innovating to stay competitive, particularly when it comes to beer.
After years of marketing to men, beer companies are starting to think more seriously about selling to women, said Beverage Digest executive editor Duane Stanford.
The beer industry has "had to spend the last five to ten years building new muscles that help them understand female consumers," he said. Constellation Brands may be more equipped to reach women, he noted, because it has such a wide portfolio. "But these days, you really have to make a concerted effort to go after that market," he said. "Especially at a time when others are waking up and understanding what attracts that consumer."
So far, Constellation has invested in two women-led startups through the new initiative: Austin Cocktails, which makes low-calorie, bottled cocktails with natural ingredients, and Vivify Beverages, which makes hard Italian soda with real fruit juice and alcohol spritzers. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
By Danielle Wiener-Bronner
December 8, 2018
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