Ads for alcohol are designed to make drinking seem fun, relaxing or attractive for adults but unfortunately their marketing techniques also appear to work on teens and young adults under the age of 21.
Studies have shown that seeing alcohol advertisements can have a significant impact on whether or not a person will drink when they are still underage.
There are a number of factors which can influence teens to drink alcohol but advertisements have proven to also play a key role in their decision. Advertising and marketing for alcohol can influence the expectations and attitudes of youth and adults while also creating an environment that promotes underage drinking.
Alcohol Ads Affect Teen Drinking
A number of studies have shown that young people who are familiar with television advertisements for alcohol were more likely to have tried alcoholic drinks or binge drink than teens that had not seen the ads.
Youth that tend to drink heavily are more familiar with alcohol advertising and even have favorite ads and brands. Although the alcohol industry has standards to direct their advertising to audiences over the legal drinking age, underage youth still frequently see these ads and are influenced by them.
The findings of one study showed that for each additional ad a young person saw he or she drank 1% more. For each additional dollar per capita spent on alcohol advertising young people drank 3% more.
Other research has shown that in addition to television advertisements, in-store beer displays and exposure to magazine advertising can increase the rates of young people drinking earlier than age 21. Young people may also be more likely to drink if they frequently see characters in movies that are drinking alcohol.
The Appeal of Advertising
Whether or not alcohol companies are intentionally targeting underage drinkers, their advertisements seem to appeal to both young and adults. Studies have identified some of the elements of advertising that tend to attract young people including music, animal and people characters, story and humor in alcohol ads.
The youth that liked ads containing these elements were more likely to say they wanted to purchase the alcohol brand and products in the advertisement. Teens and young people also tend to be more attracted to alcohol products that are associated with risky behavior and provide immediate gratification, thrills or social status.
Alcohol ads can also create positive expectations about alcohol use and the effect that it can have as well as produce the intention to drink for people who are still underage. Teens have reported that the advertisements they see have a greater influence on their desire to drink in general rather than their desire to buy a particular brand of alcohol.
Affirmation of the General Public
Surveys given to the general public have determined that most people firmly believe that alcohol advertising influences underage people to drink and is even a major contributor to this problem. Alcohol advertisers spend billions of dollars a year on producing ads convincing people to buy their products.
The amount of advertising for alcohol has greatly expanded in recent years and youth exposure to these ads has increased as a result. Young people who are underage are also more likely to see ads promoting alcohol consumption than an industry ad discouraging it.
Not only are young people more exposed to alcohol advertising, they receive less education on reasons not to drink. There is conclusive evidence proving that exposure to alcohol advertising does have an effect on whether teens decide to drink.
If alcohol companies were to reduce their amount of advertising or create ads that do not appeal to young people there could be a significant decrease in underage alcohol consumption.