New research shows that Irish teens who are treated for their alcohol abuse at an adolescent drug and alcohol service prefer premium brands like Budweiser and Smirnoff. Considering the fact that there are cheaper brands available to these heavy drinkers, this finding is remarkable and according to the researchers may point to an effect on drinking behavior of alcohol brand marketing.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, co-author Bobby Smyth voiced his surprise over the finding that problem drinkers were not driven by the cheapest or strongest drinks. He went on to point out the relation with alcohol marketing: “They are drawn to branding and promotion and that’s down to advertising. It is yet more evidence that alcohol advertising and sponsorship needs to be seriously restricted.”

The study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Addictions Nursing, was conducted by taking questionnaires from 34 adolescents aged between 14 and 18 who were entering treatment for drug or alcohol abuse. Besides questions about brand loyalty, the questionnaire also posed questions about levels of consumption. From this data, the researchers concluded that boys consumed 18.5 units of alcohol (seven to eight pints) the last time they drank and the girls 17.5 units.

In the interview with the Irish Examiner Smyth also expressed his concern over the fact that 11% of the underage respondents got their alcohol from their parents.

Also researched were the brands that got consumed during the first experience with alcohol. This found that 18% drank Smirnoff vodka as their first alcoholic consumption. WKD, Bulmers, Budweiser, Huzzar Vodka and Dutch Gold are other brands that are popular for a fist time alcoholic consumption.

Source: The Irish Examiner 10/13/11

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