A study was conducted on how alcohol companies use drinker identity and brand allegiance to market their products to underage youth. These two factors are used to market alcohol to experimental underage drinkers.
According to Auden C. McClure, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth said, “There is growing evidence that alcohol marketing is reaching adolescents and young adults, that they respond to it, and that their response is associated both with initation of alcohol use and with progression to problem drinking.”
Kristina M. Jackson, associate professor in the department of behavioral and social sciences at Brown University believes that the correlation between alcohol marketing and alcohol consumption among underage youth is “understudied but quite robust.”
McClure’s study involved 1,734 15-to-20-year-olds (882 males, 852 females) recruited for a national study on media and substance use int he United States. Students were asked questions about their exposure to alcohol in films, amount of time spent watching television and using the Internet, favorite alcohol advertisements, and whether or not they owned alcohol-branded merchandise (ABM). These alcohol-marketing factors were measured with the students’ current binge drinking patterns, drinking identity, favorite alcohol brands, and norms involved with drinking.
According to Jackson, “alcohol use in young persons is influenced by alcohol marketing at levels both proximal, such as ownership of ABM, and distal, such as alcohol advertising in the media.” Jackson also added that students who established their own drinking identity were prone to experimenting with other alcohol brands and reinforcing the influence that alcohol has as they progress from early experimentation all the way to addicted use.
Alcohol companies give their products and brand a ‘personality’ that will resonate with potential consumers, including underage youth. According to Jackson, “Marketers carefully craft the content of the marketing, the images, and the medium, merchandise items that appeal to adolescents, as well as films featuring attractive, popular role models, to appeal to this age group.”
Co-author of the study and professor of pediatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth James Sargent referred to how tobacco companies got rid of branded merchandise in 1999 after a study showed the link between tobacco-branded merchandise and smoking among young teens. “It is time for alcohol companies to do the same, because it is abundantly clear that ownership of ABM is associated with teen drinking,” said Sargent.
McClure and Jackson believe that parents can play an important role in their children’s receptivity to alcohol by monitoring their exposure to media and marketing involving alcohol use.
To read more about the study from Medical News Today, click here.