University of Bath

Would you ‘like’ a drink? Youth drinking cultures, social media and alcohol marketing online

An IPR Policy Brief to examine how new technologies are used by young people and alcohol marketers, and their role in shaping young adults’ drinking cultures.

The high level of alcohol consumption amongst young people in countries with more liberal alcohol policies has been a focus of public health concern for some time. More recently this population has increased their use of new mobile and digital technologies (such as smartphones) and social networking Internet sites (such as Facebook and YouTube). Major alcohol companies now invest heavily in online alcohol marketing. Up until now the impact of this strategy has been unclear. This policy brief reports on recent and ongoing research about how new technologies are used by young people and alcohol marketers, and their role in shaping young adults’ drinking cultures. The research concludes that online alcohol marketing aimed at young adults is widespread, highly dynamic and takes an ever-expanding range of forms as new digital and mobile technologies develop. Young people tend to view targeted alcohol marketing via social media as useful and informative, seldom recognising it as advertising.