Attempts to address harmful drinking have focused on the various factors that may play a role in shaping patterns of consumption. These include the role of beverage alcohol marketing.
At the heart of the debate is the impact of marketing of beverage alcohol on young people’s consumption patterns and any harmful outcomes.
The resulting policy debate has centered on the degree to which the marketing of beverage alcohol should be regulated.
- The balance of the evidence does not support a direct causal relationship between overall alcohol marketing, and drinking levels or harmful drinking patterns (chronic or episodic).
- Marketing is one of many factors that influence consumer attitudes and drinking behaviors.
- Studies have shown that the principal influences on youth drinking are parents and peers.
Methodological approaches and general findings
The relationship between marketing and alcohol consumption has been studied using various methodologies, with differing results.
- Econometric studies that examine relationship between marketing expenditure and consumption have found no or only a modest correlation.
- Experimental studies have also attempted to examine the impact of marketing (particularly advertising) on drinking, but have a number of critical shortcomings.
- Longitudinal research shows a modest relationship between exposure to marketing and drinking among young people; the strength of the association varies between studies.
- Attempts to examine the impact of marketing or advertising restrictions or bans on consumption have shown varying results for drinking patterns and outcomes.
Regulation of beverage alcohol marketing
- In most countries around the world, marketing of beverage alcohol is subject to some degree of government oversight and regulation.
- Producers of beverage alcohol also have their own internal codes around marketing both in the form of company-level efforts, and across a particular sector.
- Industry self-regulation is always set within a broader framework of government regulation.
- Marketing of beverage alcohol involves not only producers, but also retailers both on- and off-premise.
- The impact of alcohol marketing cannot be separated from the many other influences that, cumulatively, shape perceptions and attitudes around drinking.
- From a policy standpoint, the impact of policy measures around marketing is often difficult to separate from the effects of other policy measures.