Despite the increased use of social media by drinks companies to promote their alcoholic beverages, it appears that among consumers of spirits in particular, the advertising is having minimal impact. New research conducted by Canadean Consumer shows that Facebook users who drink spirits rarely follow fan pages created by drinks companies and certainly don’t allow them to influence their purchasing decisions.
Of the 2,000 consumers polled by Canadean, 68% drank alcoholic spirits. Of these, 81% disagreed with the statement that they would look on Facebook for fan pages of their favourite drinks. Furthermore, 79% disagreed that they would be more likely to purchase a particular brand if it was promoted on a fan page. Where the consumers of alcoholic spirits were most in agreement, however, was when they were asked if fan pages should be banned to ensure that younger viewers could not access them: indeed, more than a third (38%) agreed here.
This view appears to reflect the concerns among campaigners who claim that drinks firms are using social media to evade restrictions on promoting alcohol to underage consumers. They argue that the boundaries between official marketing and unofficial user-generated content are becoming increasingly blurred, and that drinks companies should not be permitted to advertise on social networking sites at all.
The Advertising Standards Authority has already warned that drinks companies could fall foul of regulations and codes of practice if they do not monitor social media keenly, especially if they utilise channels whose audience is more than a quarter made up of under-18s. There is also ongoing dialogue between the industry, regulators and social network operators with regards to how best to restrict access to content by minors so that advertising laws are adhered to.
Emma Herbert, Research Manager at Canadean Consumer adds: “The research also showed that only 18% of consumers thought that fan pages made brands look ‘cool and modern’. If by advertising on social networking sites, it is the intention of drinks companies to increase brand perception and to stimulate consumers’ purchasing activity, then it clearly isn’t working.”