New research has shown that spending on alcohol ads has increased in the US by 400 per cent over the past 40 years but that hasn’t translated to Americans drinking any more.
In a country famous for its beer, Bud and spirit ads, a study by the University of Texas suggests that despite the spends – estimated to be $US2 billion annually in the US – it’s had little impact on how much booze the Yanks are consuming.
The study found that from 1971 to 2011 alcohol consumption per person had only increased slightly. In 1971 the average American drank just over 84 litres of alcohol each per year. By 2011 that had jumped up nine litres to 93 litres per person per year. Interestingly, however, it has steadily decreased from a high in 1981 of 109 litres.
Despite drinking rates remaining relatively static over the past four decades spends on all alcohol advertising had increased four-fold.
The report found said: “Relating these findings to previous research reveals a consistency in that there is either no relationship or a weak one between advertising and aggregate sales. Over this time period, beer sales have exhibited a downward trend since the early 1990s, while wine and liquor have increased their share of total alcohol sales. This is despite large increases in advertising expenditures across all three categories of alcohol.”
So advertising didn’t make us drink more, however, it did wonders for branding. The report found that a clever Bud or Heineken ad could dramatically increase sales but that didn’t necessarily mean people were drinking more beer. It determined that advertising (for alcohol anyway) didn’t increase consumption but it did wonders for telling consumers about availability and pricing. There’s also been a concerted effort of late to extol “taste” over consumption.
Interestingly, there’s a growing movement in the US that argues children should not be exposed to alcohol ads – The Superbowl and outdoor, as an example. Some states – including Los Angeles – have also banned out of home alcohol advertising on buses and at bus stops.