Contemporary Drug Problems 37/Spring 2010
The extent of global alcohol marketing and its impact on youth BY DAVID H. JERNIGAN, PH.D.
Alcohol marketing is a global phenomenon, in which an increasingly small number of companies spend considerable sums to establish and embed their brands in the lives and lifestyles of populations. Market research data offers insight into the size and extent of the global alcohol trade, and the magnitude of alcohol advertising expenditures. Recent examples of alcohol marketing in a variety of national contexts illustrate the techniques used by the global companies. The effects of this marketing on young people are described in reviews of recent research studies on youth exposure to alcohol marketing and the effects of that exposure, interpretive models to explain the effects of alcohol marketing on young people, whether alcohol advertising targets young people, and assessments of the effectiveness of regulatory restrictions on marketing and other countermeasures. Despite the failure of public health research to keep pace with newly developing marketing technologies, there is a growing body of evidence that alcohol marketing influences young people’s drinking behavior. Measures to reduce that impact should be considered by national governments seeking to limit the public health burden caused by harmful use of alcohol. KEY WORDS: alcohol, advertising, youth, globalization, marketing.
AUTHOR ’ S NOTE : Support for development of an earlier version of this
paper was provided by the World Health Organization.
© 2010 by Federal Legal Publications, Inc.
GLOBAL ALCOHOL MARKETING
From a public health perspective, alcohol marketing matters. While there is tremendous diversity in the kinds of alcohol available throughout the world, from communally-produced traditional beverages to globalized mass consumer products, the globalized beverages play a particular role. They are, of their essence, marketed products, and as such are often the most visible manifestation of alcoholic beverages in a society. In this sense they lead the market for alcoholic beverages, providing an affordable badge of participation in western culture. As socioeconomic status rises in a developing nation, the likelihood of using these products tends to increase, along with western cultural orientation (Eide, Acuda, & Roysamb, 1998). Globalized alcoholic beverages are branded products, and benefit from the latest developments in marketing technology designed to embed the brand in the lives and minds of the target consumers (Aaker, 1996). Branding and marketing knowledge are critical to their globalization because, according to one researcher working from the standpoint of the survival of global firms, “in non-science-based industries such as alcoholic beverages . . . brands and marketing knowledge rather than technological innovation are central in explaining the growth and survival of multinational firms” (Lopes, 2003). Using this marketing knowledge, the global brands gain ubiquity through traditional media, sponsorships, and on-premise promotions, as well as “new media” such as mobile phones, podcasting, and the Internet. Both research on the health effects of this marketing activity and public health responses to mitigate those effects are hard pressed to keep up with the industry’s pace of innovation. Given this situation, this article reviews the shape and size of the global supply of marketed alcoholic beverages, describes some of the forms this marketing is taking in developed and developing societies, summarizes research on the effects of that marketing, and then outlines possible public health policy responses.
The global alcohol market: An overview According to Impact Databank, a leading market research firm serving the alcoholic beverage industry, premium globalized (branded) spirits account for approximately 44% of the total spirits products available around the world (Banaag,...
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