An investigation into digital alcohol marketing and user-created alcohol promotion, and the association with young adults alcohol-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour

by Nathan Critchlow

Institution: University of Stirling
Year: 2017
Keywords: Alcohol marketing; User-created alcohol promotion; Alcohol consumption; Young adults; Alcohol advertising; Digital alcohol marketing; Drinking motives; Outcome expectancies; Content analysis; Cross-sectional survey; User-generated content; Mediation; Social marketing; Teenagers Alcohol use; Youth Alcohol use; Advertising Alcoholic beverages
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2155079
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/25798


Context: There are two ways that digital media may influence alcohol use. The first is commercial alcohol marketing. The second is user-created alcohol promotion, defined as content distributed through new media that promotes consumption, but independent of commercial marketing. This thesis explores how both types of content promote alcohol, what association there is between exposure and alcohol-related attitudes and behaviour, and the differences between marketing and user-created promotion. Method: A mixed method design was employed, divided into two studies. The first was a content analysis of the design features, topical references, and messages suggested about alcohol in digital marketing and user-created promotion on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The second was a cross-sectional survey with young adults (n = 405). This measured awareness of, and participation with, digital marketing and user-created promotion, and the association with consumption, higher-risk drinking, brand recall, expectancies, and drinking motives. Results: The content analysis found that digital marketing had personalised designs which contained subtle and positive messages about consumption, whereas user-created promotion had simpler designs, displayed little ethical practice, and contained overt messages about higher-risk drinking. The cross-sectional survey found that young adults were aware of, and participating with, both digital marketing and user-created promotion, with exposure greater for the latter. Exposure to both types of content was positively associated with alcohol use, higher-risk consumption, and drinking intentions. User-created promotion had a stronger association with all outcomes than marketing. The association between exposure and consumption, for both types of content, was mediated through drinking motives and expectancies. Conclusion: Young adults are aware of, and participating with, a range of digital marketing and user-created promotion. That such exposure is associated with alcohol-related attitudes and behaviour highlights the potential of new media to influence alcohol consumption. Further research is required to better understand young peoples experience with digital media and the challenges of addressing online health risk messages.