International Journal of Drug Policy; A.M. Atkinson, B.R. Meadows & H. Sumnall; March 2024



The pinking of alcohol products and marketing (i.e. the (over) use of the colour pink as a feminine aesthetic) is a form of gendered marketing that is used by the industry to target and appeal to the female market, and encourage sales and alcohol consumption. However, little is known about how women relate to and view such marketing, and how such products feature in their performance of femininities through drinking practice.


Semi-structured individual (N = 39) and group (N = 79) interviews with 117 women who drank alcohol and participated in the night time economy in the city of Liverpool in North West of England were conducted to gain insight into their attitudes towards the use of pink in alcohol product design and marketing content, and how this relates to their feminine identity making in intersectional ways. Interviews with individuals (N = 23) working in alcohol brand marketing locally, nationally and globally were also conducted to explore the use of pink marketing. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.


The pinking of products and marketing was considered the most obvious form of female targeted marketing by both women and marketers. Discussion of pink drinks generated in depth discussions of the femininities and connotations attached to the colour. Reflecting a conventional and normative femininity, women conformed to, and/or rejected pink products and marketing, within their feminine identity making. Four themes are presented that draw attention to the similarities and differences between marketers and women’s perspectives on pink marketing, and how women’s relationship with pink marketing and products were nuanced, varied in relation to their feminist identities, and intersected with other social positions such as sexuality and class.


The article makes an original and significant contribution to the field on gendered drinking practices and identity making and the influence of alcohol marketing on these processes, and is novel in addressing the usual omission of industry voice in discussions of marketing. It concludes that in the current context of contemporary feminism, in which (young) women are endorsing feminist identities, women’s relationship with feminism influences their attitudes to marketing such as pinking, and their likelihood of consuming such products.

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