Purves R, Stead M & Eadie D (2018) "I Wouldn't Be Friends with Someone If They Were Liking Too Much Rubbish": A Qualitative Study of Alcohol Brands, Youth Identity and Social Media. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15 (2), Art. No.: 349. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15020349
The consumption of alcohol by young people remains a major public health concern at both the national and international level. Levels of drinking among 15‐year olds in the United Kingdom (UK) remain significantly higher than the European average. This study explored how alcohol brands are used by young people to develop their desired identities and how these acts of consumption extend to young people's profiles on social media. It also deepens understanding of how alcohol brands are connected to young peoples' concerns about image and peer group dynamics. This involved qualitative focus groups with young people aged 14-7 in Central Scotland. Certain alcohol brands were approved and viewed as socially acceptable by young people, while others were rejected. Children as young as 14 were selecting products to portray a drinking identity that was appropriately aligned to their gender and sexuality. Participants displayed a desire to associate themselves with the mature drinking culture personified by some brands, whilst simultaneously distancing themselves from immature drinking practices associated with others. Publicly associating with alcohol brands on social media carried with it potential risks to peer group acceptance. Understanding how young people perceive alcohol brands, the importance of social media in communicating that identity to their peers and the role that alcohol brands play in adolescent identity formation is an important first step to reforming alcohol marketing regulations.
alcohol; branding; identity; young people; social media; marketing
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: Volume 15, Issue 2