Alcohol Concern recently released a recent report that looked at children’s recognition of alcohol marketing. It revealed some worrying statistics, with children as young as 10-years-old being very familiar with alcohol brands.
The main issue was seen to be beer brands’ sponsorship of sporting teams: most notably football. The report suggested that while there are protections to prevent alcohol marketing impacting on children, they are still being exposed to a considerable amount, particularly those interested in sports. Which is hardly surprising when you consider, for example, the scale of Carlsberg’s sponsorship of the England men’s football team.
The ISBA has been quick to defend the industry’s current model of self-regulation, pointing to recent research that shows alcohol consumption among children is actually dropping in the UK.
On the whole, self-regulation is effective and our clients all strive to play well within the code of conduct – often being far more conservative than they could be.
However, evidence like this puts a spotlight on alcohol advertising practices and builds further pressure on the government to increase legislation and control on alcohol marketing in the UK. In an election year, it could be seen as an easy win for an opposing party to take a hardline on public health. As more and more European markets operate under some form of restriction, it may only be a matter of time until the UK market follows suit in some way.
This move to grey markets (where a product is bought and sold outside of the manufacturer’s authorised trading channels) means that direct consumer communications are becoming increasingly important. Direct communications have a number of benefits, the key one being that only the recipient of that communication will see it. This means there should be no chance of communications reaching or impacting on children.
Direct communications enable brands to be highly targeted, which makes that brand more relevant to the consumer and the messaging more interesting. Brands with trade portfolios can accurately target the right products to the right consumers.
Effective messaging and targeting are only the beginning. As media targeting leaps forward, brands that hold their consumer data will be able to harness this data to improve their targeting. An example of this is the custom audience targeting possible via Facebook, which you can build using consumer emails and which can greatly increase your ad spend return on investment.
Those alcohol brands not already taking steps to migrate consumers to their own databases could find themselves sprinting to catch up if the UK market moves towards marketing restrictions. The flipside? Those brands that are building direct consumer databases will find themselves at a significant competitive advantage both today with improved media targeting, and in the future should they face greater restraints on marketing.
Building a consumer database can seem daunting, but considering an alternative future without one could be terrifying.
This article was brought to you by Richard Southon, Managing Director, Communicator and first appeared online on the Guardian media network.