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Research suggests online marketing influences young people to drink more alcohol more often at an earlier age

A newly published review of currently available scientific literature shows that exposure to online alcohol marketing leads to advancing the onset of alcohol consumption, increasing the amount consumed, as well as the frequency of consumption. The report was based on several studies which measured the effects of exposure to digital or online alcohol marketing on the drinking behaviour of young people.

The main findings were:
 
1. Two studies which did not specifically identify online alcohol marketing exposure, found positive associations with drinking, despite their broad scope
2. Three studies, in which online alcohol marketing is part of a cumulative exposure measure, show a positive association between exposure to alcohol marketing and young people’s drinking behaviour
3. Three studies directly measured exposure to online alcohol marketing and showed strong positive associations
4. In these last three studies, effects ranged from advancing the onset of alcohol consumption, increasing the amount consumed, as well as the frequency of consumption. One study even suggests an association with binge drinking
5. One study found that the effect of online alcohol advertising was almost twice as strong as that of traditional marketing
6. It’s not just commercial advertising messages: In two studies a strong association has been found between young people explicitly presenting their selves as drinkers (assuming an ‘alcohol identity’) on social network sites and harmful drinking behaviour
7. This last association exemplifies the problem of the lines being blurred between commercial advertising messages and user generated content on social media sites

The review was released ahead of the EUCAM (The European Centre for Monitoring Alcohol Marketing) online conference on digital alcohol marketing tomorrow (31 October). Please view the EUCAM press release for more information or download their fact sheet ‘The effects of online marketing on drinking behaviours of young people’ for more information.