Constructing alcohol identities. How young people navigate and make sense of online intoxicogenic marketing and culture

Research and Development Grant

Led by members of the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University this project aims to understand how young people interact with the social media strategies of some of the most popular alcohol brands, and how this compares to online peer driven representations of alcohol and the reception of online health promotion. The study aims to address whether this interaction (or rejection of) helps to determine young people’s own identities and shape their understanding of alcohol intoxication and its consequences.

social media

Online activity, and in particular social media, represents a new marketing opportunity for the alcohol industry. Whilst the Advertising Standards Agency’s CAP code (2010), suggests that online marketing should not “imply, condone or encourage immoderate, irresponsible or anti-social drinking”, it is in the very nature of social media that potential consumers are able to interact and help shape the form and content of marketing, and this lies outside of such codes.

There has been a rapid increase in the use of social media among young people, with new technologies becoming important features of young people’s social lives. As such, online alcohol marketing is increasingly being consumed by young people, some of whom may have begun, or are beginning, to engage with a culture of heavy drinking and intoxication.

Principle Investigator: Professor Harry Sumnall (Liverpool John Moores University)

This study will conclude in 2015.