In a recent study, Addiction Switzerland provides an overview of the challenges linked to online alcohol marketing. The main findings of the research are presented below. The study consists of four parts:
- (Non systematic) review of the literature on the impact and the strategies of online marketing for alcohol
- Monitoring of online alcohol marketing via selected websites and Facebook pages
- Overview of the legal regulation of online alcohol marketing in Switzerland and the self-regulation of the industry
- Online mystery-shopping
- The literature review highlights the use of internet as a new tool for alcohol marketing. Besides traditional websites, marketers rely on social media to reach a mainly young audience. Online marketing allows to interact with users who become ambassadors of the brands through liking, sharing and commenting posts from alcohol brands. One of the main issues is the user generated content, which is out of reach of any regulation or code. Research has shown that there is a correlation between the exposure to alcohol marketing and the onset of drinking and the amounts consumed. This correlation is even stronger when traditional marketing via newspapers, magazines etcetera is combined with online marketing.
- To generate an understanding of the marketing strategies for alcohol on the internet, monitoring of several brand websites and official Facebook pages over four months has been conducted. In general, the sites and pages respect the self-regulation codes, but the widespread use of lifestyle-advertisements suggests that these advertisements are also appealing to young people and even minors.
- There are several restrictions for alcohol marketing in Swiss law that also apply to online marketing, but the possibilities offered by the internet are difficult to regulate. The self-regulation codes only partially cover these gaps. One main point is the fact that user generated content is explicitly out of reach of these codes and the industry does not take responsibility for such content.
- A sample of online mystery shopping showed that it is very easy for minors to buy alcohol via the internet. In 11 of 12 cases minors could buy alcohol without having to prove their age. Therefore, Addiction Switzerland proposes to extend the “traditional” mystery shopping to online stores. Mystery shopping has proved to be an effective measure to sensitize outlets for respecting age limits.
Link to the reports:
Marthaler, M. und Zobel. F. (2016): Alkoholmarketing und –Verkauf über das Internet: Eine Auslegeordnung. Synthese der vier Teilprojekte. Lausanne: Sucht Schweiz.
Review of the literature:
Marthaler, M. (2015): Online-Alkoholmarketing. Strategien, Wirkung und Regulierung. Literaturreview. Lausanne: Sucht Schweiz.
Monitoring of the alcohol marketing on the internet:
Marthaler, M., Mendez, N. und Zobel, F. (2016): Beobachtung des Alkoholmarketings im Internet. Lausanne: Sucht Schweiz.
Regulation of alcohol marketing in the internet:
Marthaler, M. (2015): Alkoholwerbung im Internet. Rechtliche Rahmenbedingungen in der Schweiz, Selbstregulierung der Alkoholindustrie und Richtlinien der social media-Plattformen. Lausanne: Sucht Schweiz.
Marthaler, M. und Mendez, N. (2015): Online Testkäufe. Verkauf von Alkohol über das Internet. Lausanne: Sucht Schweiz.
See also http://www.addictionsuisse.ch/