Constellation Brands will invest in women-run alcohol brands in an effort to grow female representation in the industry.

WHAT HAPPENED: With its new program, Focus on Female Founders, Constellation Brands Ventures—manufacturer of Corona and Svedka Vodka—plans to invest $100 million in female-led alcohol brands in the next ten years.

Why it matters

  • The alcohol industry is comprised mostly of men—across both beverages and tobacco, executives are about 80% male—and it’s not a new story that women-founded brands attract drastically less venture capital (Pitchbook found that female-run companies received a meager 2.2% of VC funding in 2017). But especially since alcohol brands are still struggling to win over female consumers with stale initiatives—some have debuted reduced-calorie versions of their beverages and Johnnie Walker launched a female logo to (condescendingly) make scotch “less intimidating” to women—and seeking alcohol brand loyalty from notoriously ambivalent millennial shoppers, Constellation’s move makes sense.
  • The holding company’s move intends to strike a symbiotic relationship with its investments, perhaps to acquire them down the line (reminiscent of Coca Cola’s developing talks to invest in Dirty Lemon). Constellation stated that it will provide the startups—Austin Cocktails, a bottled cocktail company, and Vivify Beverages, which makes hard soda, as of now—access to its supply chain, distributors and brand-building tools. Though the move may be ultimately self-serving, Constellation is keeping apace with cultural and consumer shifts regarding the historical underrepresentation of women. Thus far, it’s $100 million pledge is the largest planned investment in female-run brands.