The alcohol industry in Africa is an industry dominated by men for the male consumer. Wrong. Triya Govender, the new Brand Manager of Glenlivet single malt whisky in South Africa, says (surprisingly)some of the whisky brands in South Africa are managed by women.
Govender is 31 years old and has been in the alcohol marketing space for four years. According to her, women bring a different perspective to the whisky industry.
“I think the way women understand people [whisky drinkers], or rather, what insights they draw from them differs to men. My inferences about consumers are framed by, but not limited to, my perspective as a woman, which is different to a man. Neither is wrong or more accurate, they’re different and I think diversity of insight and perspective is a good thing because it helps stimulate debate and get the best idea on the table.
“The whisky category in this country is proliferated with brands appealing to more or less the same consumer need and doing so in very similar ways. Cutting through the clutter in order to be seen or heard by the consumer, let alone convincing them, is a big challenge,” says Govender.
She is seeking to expand her market, particularly the female franchise.
“Female franchise refers to the growing female whisky-drinking population in South Africa. These women are changing the face of what is widely considered an ‘all boys club’.”
Born in Durban in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, Govender completed a Bachelor of Arts degree and post-graduation in Marketing Management at the University of Cape Town. She was employed by Microsoft as an online ad operator, followed by managerial positions in British American Tobacco, Brandhouse, Distell and Pernod Ricard where she holds her current position.
“At the time I moved into the alcoholic beverages industry, I was looking for an opportunity to grow my skills in terms of brand building. I felt brand management in this industry really focused on turning consumer insight into relevant brand propositions and this was the area of professional development I was seeking. Plus, it’s a pretty fun industry to be in,” says Govender.
Whether as marketers or consumers, are women in the whisky industry associated with empowerment?
“I’m empowered because I have the freedom to work in any industry I choose. I’m empowered because my voice is heard and I’m empowered because my gender does not dictate my skill, competency or the opportunities I have access to. Being the Brand Manager of Glenlivet is a result of the fact that I’m empowered. I believe the idea of legacy is a powerful personal motivator, it can motivate women [and men] to empower themselves if that’s what it takes to live a life worth remembering for the right reasons,” she adds.
This ethos is one she adopts even in her life as in 2012 she co-foundered the Young Professionals Effect, an organization offering free consulting to NGOs. She is also a manager of the Emagqabini Education Academy in Khayelitsha, a township in South Africa.
“I believe that we will not see any progress in society if we don’t work to improve the lives of all. The positive change I hope to bring about through my involvement in these organizations is the legacy I wish to leave behind.”