2020 March; David Jernigan, Ph.D.a,* and Craig S. Ross, M.B.A., Ph.D.b



The purpose of this study is to inform public health efforts to reduce alcohol-related harm by describing the alcohol marketing landscape. We review the size, structure, and strategies of both the U.S. national and global alcohol industries and their principal marketing activities and expenditures and provide a summary of public health responses.


Primary data were obtained from advertising and alcohol industry market research firms and were supplemented by searches of peer-reviewed literature, business press, and online databases on global business and trade.


Worldwide, alcohol sales totaled more than $1.5 trillion in 2017. Control of alcoholic beverage production and marketing is concentrated globally in the hands of a small number of firms. The oligopoly structure of the producing industry helps to generate high profits per dollar invested relative to other industries, which in turn fund marketing expenditures that function as barriers to entry by other firms. Advertising expenditures are high and advertising is widespread. Stakeholder marketing and corporate social responsibility campaigns assist in maintaining a policy environment conducive to extensive alcohol marketing activity. The most common regulatory response has been alcohol industry self-regulation; statutory public health responses have made little progress in recent years and have lagged behind industry innovation in digital and social marketing.


Alcohol marketing is widespread globally and a structural element of the alcoholic beverage industry. Given the level of alcohol-related harm worldwide, global and regional recommendations and best practices should be used to guide policy makers in effective regulation of alcohol marketing.

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