Publication Details

Gordon, R. Harris, F. (2009). Assessing the cumulative impact of alcohol marketing on young people's drinking: cross sectional data findings. 8th International Congress of the International Association of Public and Non Profit Marketing


This article provides first wave data from a study designed to examine the impact of the full range of marketing communication techniques used by the UK alcohol industry, and their cumulative effect on alcohol initiation and youth drinking patterns. The study is of a longitudinal cohort design and was conducted amongst secondary school pupils in Scotland. A cohort of 920 2nd year school pupils participated and cross sectional data was collected and analysed. Regression models with multiple control variables examined the relationship between awareness of and involvement with a range of alcohol marketing activities, and drinking and associated risky behaviours. Marketing variables were constructed for 13 different types of alcohol marketing – television, billboards/posters, newspapers & magazines, sponsorship, in store displays, merchandising, special price offers, promotional/viral emails, product placement, package/product design, web sites, SMS/mobile and free samples. Drinking behaviour measures were collected including drinking status, what and amount consumed when last had a drink and frequency of drinking. Confounding variables tested included media exposure, demographics and parental and peer influence. Bivariate analyses found significant association between awareness of, exposure to, and involvement in, alcohol marketing, and drinking behaviours and attitudes towards alcohol. The initial findings reinforce the view that alcohol is marketed using several channels of communication, and that young people demonstrate a high level of awareness of and involvement with alcohol marketing. Alcohol interventions and alcohol control policies should aim to help children counter alcohol marketing from multiple sources and limit exposure to these sources.



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