Monday, 23 November 2009

Binge Drinking Britain this Christmas

So alright, even I am getting a bit Christmassy. Tis the season to be jolly, buy presents – oh and drink a lot. Binge drinking Britain will be at his height. A frenzy of office parties and boozy afternoons with your clients and contacts. We won’t care that alcohol is ruining the nation’s health and is at the source of a large amount of anti social behaviour. We will just be enjoying ourselves!

Will we heed the government warnings to drink responsibly? What does that mean?

“All future Scotch Whisky adverts and printed point of sale materials are to carry a responsible drinking message” as reported in Marketing Week on Friday 20th This is the sort of industry initiative that we see regularly. It supposed to make us have some constraint in our drinking. Do they really believe this will have any effect?

Responsible drinking is the industry buzzword. Bacardi also use it on their web site. Note the exclamation mark after “Drink Responsibly!”. It’s as if Bacardi don’t even believe it themselves. And why would they? Slapping “danger” messages all over alcohol or cigarettes has never influenced anybody.

So how could we communicate a bit of restraint differently?

The industry and the government could start by realising that as consumers we are completely blind to the obvious messages on every bottle and web site. “Drink in moderation”, “Drink aware”.

I am not suggesting that there is a quick fix solution to Britain’s deep rooted social problems but we could start realising that customers have a brain and we could start thinking what alcohol customers want and need to help themselves make better decisions.

Consumer Insight 1

A lot of consumers don’t actually realise how much they are drinking.

Wouldn’t it be far more practical and helpful to offer details of the units in a drink? 1 large glass of wine, which is now the norm in many bars and pubs is 250ml. For an average strengthened wine at 12% alcohol, that is 3 units . A lot of people would be surprised at that. I am convinced a large % of people have no idea they are consuming so much alcohol in one go. In one night you could easily consume 9 units out of the 14 recommended for women per week.

Could pubs display more of this kind of practical info rather than a “drink responsibly” generic poster? Could the spirits manufactures replace their “drink aware” statements on POS and bottles with something that indicates how many units we are consuming when we pour?

Consumer Insight 2

Alcohol drinking is a social phenomenon. Quite often we drink with friends at regular moments in the week. A bit like smoking, it is a bit of a habit.

What about a bit more industry product initiatives such as more low alcohol products? Low alcohol wine or alcopops would be a great way to cut down. I know a few people who would be interested but I never see these products anywhere if they even exist. Ask for a low alcohol beer and the landlord looks at you a bit sadly and that is presuming he stocks any.

As I said I certainly don’t have all the solutions, but it would be great to see those involved in the alcohol industry thinking in a more innovative way that doesn’t treat customers like non-thinking robots.

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