Friday, 27 March 2015

More evidence on alcohol advertising

No matter how much evidence shows that advertising affects brand choice rather than total consumption, the public health racket will continue to say the exact opposite.

For example, Gerard Hastings recently appeared before a House of Lords committee to talk about alcohol regulation. Whilst there, he told this brazen whopper...

"All the evidence is that if marketing is encouraging you to consume a particular brand, it is also going to have an impact on category."

"All the evidence" does not say that. On the contrary, the overwhelming majority of the evidence shows that advertising for any established category, including alcohol, has little or no effect on overall consumption.

Yet another study confirmed this last week. Looking specifically at the alcohol market in the USA since 1971, the authors concluded:

This study has provided evidence of consumption changes across categories of alcohol beverages over the past 40-plus years with the preponderance of those changes significantly correlated to fluctuations in demography, taxation and income levels – not advertising. Despite other macro-level studies with consistent findings, the perception that advertising increases consumption exists. The findings here indicate that there is either no relationship or a weak one between advertising and aggregate category sales. Therefore, advertising restrictions or bans with the purpose of reducing consumption may not have the desired effect.

The authors note that there has been a 400% rise in alcohol ad spend in the last 40 years...

...and there has been a rise in consumer spending on alcohol...

...but there has been no commensurate rise in alcohol consumption...

And as the authors say, summarising the body of evidence of alcohol advertising...

...even though advertising appeared to not influence new consumers to drink alcohol, it has influenced existing consumers to switch brands or alcohol categories. Advertising has been a competitive marketing tool in the ongoing market share battles between individual brands to obtain increased sales at the expense of their competitors.
...In a market that is not expanding or is more mature, any sales gains by one brand will be at the expense of a competitor’s, thereby impacting a competing brand’s or category’s market share. Furthermore, advertising may be related to increases in consumption at the aggregate level, but only within a favourable social and economic climate such a expanding or growing market.

This is both common sense and evidence-based. As such, it will be ignored by the dogmatic denizens of pretend public health as they continue to rail against the reflected image of products they wish didn't exist at all.

Don't forget that you can download the new edition of Advertising in a Free Society (with a foreword by yours truly) here.

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