Does the Alcohol Industry Target Minors?
With the direct shipping issue raging, the battle lines have been drawn. One of the major arguments against direct shipping, (mainly wholesalers and prohibitionist groups), is that the alcohol industry already targets a youthful audience and less regulation would lead to minors buying wine directly. But a new Penn State study takes issue with these alleged efforts to push booze on children.
From 2001 to 2003, Professor Emeritus John Nelson comprehensively searched for economic evidence of this accusation. In the journal, Contemporary Economic Policy, he published his findings from examining the reader demographics of 28 different magazines that ran 3,675 alcohol advertisements.
Professor Nelson’s conclusion is quite stark: “The percentage of youth readers is not significant in any of the economic regressions, regardless of the model. Policymakers would be well advised to turn their attention to other aspects of youth drinking behaviors, rather than decisions made in the market for advertising space.”
In short, he found no evidence that the alcohol industry intentionally targets a youthful demographic. The most popular magazines for advertisements were about subjects including men’s style, sports, entertainment, and music.
According to Nelson, theses are not especially popular subjects for young people and they make up a small percentage of the readership. He goes on to say an intuitive truth: that audience size and ad costs are the true determinants of promotional decisions.