Methods: Ninety-two adults were exposed to four labelling conditions of bottles for a famous brand of each of wine, beer and hard liquor. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four labelling conditions: standard, text warning, text and image warning, or text and image warning on a plain bottle. Participants then expressed their product-based (i.e., evaluation of the products) and consumer-based (i.e., evaluation of potential consumers of the products) perceptions in relation to each label condition and were asked to recognize the correct health warning.
Results: As expected, participants perceived bottles with warnings less positively as compared to standard bottles in terms of product-based and consumer-based perceptions: plain bottles showed the most consistent statistically significant results, followed by text and image warnings, and then text warnings in pair-wise comparisons with the standard bottles. Some support for the impact of plain packaging on warning recognition was also found.
Conclusion: Unlike previous studies, this study reveals that health warnings, if similar to those on cigarette packs, can change consumer-based and product-based perceptions of alcohol products. The study reveals the importance of serious consideration of stringent alcohol warning policy research.
This is not the first name that gory images and plain packaging have been put forward as the 'next logical step' for Alcohol Control - see here, here, here and here. Things have now moved into the junk science stage in which the opinion of glorified focus groups is treated as empirical evidence. It won't be long before 'the evidence is overwhelming' and the government is accused of caving into the alcohol industry if it rejects the idea.
See how it works yet?