by Carey Finn (@carey_finn) Silke Bucker (@silke_7), brand director of Castle Lite Africa, talks change in a gendered drinking environment, as well as where the beer is going.

Q5: The alcohol industry still has a reputation as a bit of a boys’ club. This is changing but what’s your take — how far does it still have to go?
Silke Bucker: It is definitely changing and I am excited to be part of the change. At AB InBev, we are very much focused on changing that reputation, and diversity and inclusion [are] something we drive through developing a strong pipeline of talent that is treated fairly and equally. That being said, alcohol is competitive and it is important for women to ‘lean in’, have a voice and back that with some hard work and business impact.

Q5: What has been the biggest shift from your previous role as marketing manager for the brand in Africa to brand director?
SB: The responsibility that Castle Lite starts and ends with me. I have an amazing team working with me on this brand, a phenomenal and very smart marketing vice president and an entire business focussed on this growth engine — but, at the end of the day, the ownership lies with me and that is a big responsibility. Not just a responsibility to the business, but a responsibility to consumers and how we use this brand to shape culture across the African continent. It excites me but there is a big change from being a part of the team to making the final decisions.

Q5: What markets is Castle Lite hoping to tap in 2020? What can we expect from the brand?
SB: Castle Lite is currently in 11 markets across the continent, making us the biggest premium beer brand in Africa. We are in different growth phases in most of these markets and 2020 really is about solidifying the brand in our key markets and continuing to push boundaries with our work.

Q5: Give us a few figures: what’s the gender split among consumers of Castle Lite?
SB: Castle Lite is the biggest beer brand amongst females in South Africa and still growing. Roughly, about a third of our volume is from women. It is clear that the easy-drinking liquid, the lower alcohol and lower kilojoules and the brand image [are key drivers] with men and women — these are shared needs; [it] does not matter in which demographic you sit.

Q5: What is the key for beer brands to appealing to a broader female market?
SB: It is really important to stay true and credible to your brand and its purpose. Castle Lite has always been about unlocking moments of extraordinary enjoyment and. when we think of social occasions, these are shared by men and women. It is easy for us to show an inclusive beer-drinking occasion because it aligns to our purpose, our liquid and our values. That is not the same for all beer brands, and that is okay. As long as big brands don’t exclude any groups or portray them as “less than”, communication can still be aimed at a primary consumer, occasion or benefit. For us, it is about enjoyment, it is about the balance between having fun and moving forward, and it is about inclusivity.


Carey FinnCarey Finn (@carey_finn) is a writer and editor with a decade and a half of industry experience, having covered everything from ethical sushi in Japan to the technicalities of roofing, agriculture, medical stuff and more. She’s also taught English and journalism, and dabbled in various other communications ventures along the way, including risk reporting. As a contributing writer to, her regular column “Q5” hones in on strategic insights, analysis and data through punchy interviews with inspiring professionals in diversive fields.

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