Alcohol is the fifth leading cause of death and disability globally. Increased availability of low/er strength alcohols has the potential to reduce alcohol consumption if they are marketed as substitutes for higher strength products rather than as products to be consumed in addition to those of higher strength. A new study led by Dr Milica Vasiljevic, Research Associate at the Behaviour and Health Research Unit, published in BMC Public Health, compared the main marketing messages conveyed by retailers and producers for low/er and regular strength wine and beer products in the UK.
The study found that, compared with regular strength wines and beers, low/er strength products were more often marketed in association with occasions deemed to be suitable for their consumption, including lunchtimes, outdoor events/barbeques, or on sports and fitness occasions. Furthermore, compared with regular strength wines and beers, low/er strength equivalents were more frequently marketed with images or text associated with health.
The present findings add to an existing literature that highlights how measures intended to benefit public health (in this case wider availability of low/er strength alcohol products) may benefit industry to the detriment of the health of the public.
The authors discuss the findings in this BMC Series blog, concluding: “Taken together, the pattern of these findings suggests that low/er strength alcohol products may not contribute to a public health strategy to reduce alcohol consumption and related harms”.
Marketing messages accompanying online selling of low/er and regular strength wine and beer products in the UK: A content analysis. Vasiljevic M, Coulter L, Petticrew M, Marteau TM, 2018