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Awareness of alcohol marketing, ownership of alcohol branded merchandise, and the association with alcohol consumption, higher-risk drinking, and drinking susceptibility in adolescents and young adults: a cross-sectional survey in the UK

14 Mar 2019


To explore awareness of alcohol marketing and ownership of alcohol branded merchandise in adolescents and young adults in the UK, what factors are associated with awareness and ownership, and what association awareness and ownership have with alcohol consumption, higher-risk drinking and susceptibility.


Online cross-sectional survey conducted during April–May 2017.


The UK.


Adolescents and young adults aged 11–19 years in the UK (n=3399).

Main outcome measures

Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test–Consumption (AUDIT-C) (0–12) and indication of higher-risk consumption (>5 AUDIT-C) in current drinkers. Susceptibility to drink (yes/no) in never drinkers.


Eighty-two per cent of respondents were aware of at least one form of alcohol marketing in the past month and 17% owned branded merchandise. 2 tests found that awareness of marketing and ownership of branded merchandise varied within drinking variables. For example, higher awareness of alcohol marketing was associated with being a current drinker (2=114.04, p<0.001), higher-risk drinking (2=85.84, p<0.001), and perceived parental (2=63.06, p<0.001) and peer approval of consumption (2=73.08, p<0.001). Among current drinkers, multivariate regressions (controlling for demographics and covariates) found that marketing awareness and owning branded merchandise was positively associated with AUDIT-C score and higher-risk consumption. For example, current drinkers reporting medium marketing awareness were twice as likely to be higher-risk drinkers as those reporting low awareness (adjusted OR (AOR)=2.18, 95% CI 1.39 to 3.42, p<0.001). Among never drinkers, respondents who owned branded merchandise were twice as likely to be susceptible to drinking as those who did not (AOR=1.98, 95% CI 1.20 to 3.24, p<0.01).


Young people, above and below the legal purchasing age, are aware of a range of alcohol marketing and almost one in five own alcohol branded merchandise. In current drinkers, alcohol marketing awareness was associated with increased consumption and greater likelihood of higher-risk consumption. In never drinkers, ownership of branded merchandise was associated with susceptibility.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open