Study Associates Alcohol Advertising with Brand Preference among Underage Drinkers

Research Update

Research Date

Underage alcohol use is a pervasive and persistent problem in the United States and many other countries, with serious health and safety consequences, often resulting from binge drinking. Given the significant amount of alcohol advertising to which young people are exposed in virtually all types of media, scientists have sought to learn whether and how such advertising influences underage drinking. In a new study, NIAAA-supported researchers asked 2699 youth aged 16-20 about their alcohol use and alcohol brand preference as part of a long-term telephone survey of U.S. adolescents and media use. Their report shows that a majority of underage drinkers in the study identified a preference for a specific brand of alcoholic beverage, that the most-preferred brands included both distilled spirits and beer, and that brand preferences correlated with levels of brand-specific advertising expenditures. This correlation suggests that alcoholic beverage marketing efforts may be reaching and influencing underage audiences. The researchers also found that young drinkers who identified a preferred brand were also more likely to engage in binge drinking, a finding that highlights the need for further research to identify any causal connections between alcohol advertising, brand preferences, and binge drinking among underage youths.