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The Great Alcopops Debate James F. Mosher JD Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation Luncheon Address Alcohol Policy 14 Conference January 28, 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "The Great Alcopops Debate James F. Mosher JD Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation Luncheon Address Alcohol Policy 14 Conference January 28, 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Great Alcopops Debate James F. Mosher JD Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation Luncheon Address Alcohol Policy 14 Conference January 28, 2008

2 The Alcopop: A sweet, sugary drink that looks and tastes like soda-pop, lemonade, and punch, but contains alcohol.

3 Developing Brand Loyalty at an Early Age “Diageo rolled out Smirnoff Ice in the US market...it suddenly put the once-stodgy Smirnoff name on the tips of millions of echo boomers’ tongues” – (Impact, May 15, 2003) Echo Boomers:  Americans born from  8 – 23 years old in 2003

4 Diageo: Competing with Beer Beer has significant marketing advantages over distilled spirits particularly for young drinkers: Advertising on all electronic media Advertising on all electronic media Significantly lower tax rates Significantly lower tax rates Greater number of retail outlets Greater number of retail outlets

5 Apple

6 “The beauty of this category is that it brings in new drinkers, people who really don’t like the taste of beer,” said Marlene Coulis, A-B’s director of new products. (Advertising Age, April 22, 2002)

7 Age of First Use of Alcoholic Beverages among year olds, 2004: 14.4 years old.  Every day, 5,400 young people under 16 years old started drinking. Who are “New Drinkers”?

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9 Beverage Choice for 12 th Grade Female Drinkers Source: Monitoring the Future, 2006 (see CAMY references 31, 32)

10 Beverage Choice for 12 th Grade Female Binge* Drinkers *5+ drinks in one setting Source: Monitoring the Future, unpublished data provided to David H. Jernigan,PhD, Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, in s from Lloyd Johnston January 25, 2006 and Ginger Maggio, February 23, 2006.

11 Bitch’s Brew, Girlie Beer, Cheerleader Beer “A third of all girls older than 12 have tried ‘alcopops’. Companies market these ‘starter drinks’ to appeal to girls and young women. Don’t be taken in.” AMA 2004 Study

12 An Industry That Has Learned From Tobacco “Kids = $$$” Youth who start drinking by 15 are 4 times more likely to become alcohol-dependent than those who wait until 21.

13 Alcopops aka Flavored “Malt” Beverages “Flavored malt beverages exhibit little or no traditional beer or malt beverage character. … Brewers … remove the color, bitterness, and taste that are generally associated with beer. … This leaves a base product to which brewers add various flavors, which typically contain distilled spirits, to achieve the desired taste profile.” Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) Description of “Flavored Malt Beverages” (Alcopops)

14 Alcohol Derived from Added Distilled Alcohol Flavorings Alcohol Percentage Derived From Added Distilled Alcohol Flavors Number of Flavored “Malt” Beverages 0-25% % % %105 Maximum Alcohol Derived From Added Alcohol Flavors: 99.98% Total: 114

15 Volume of Beer Base Present in Flavored Malt Beverages Volume of Flavored “Malt” Beverage Derived From Fermented Beer Base Number of Flavored “Malt” Beverages 0-25% % % %14

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18 What alcohol industry commentators say about Minott Wessinger One of the most successful innovators in industry history One of the most successful innovators in industry history He is a risk taker He is a risk taker The guy has the Midas touch The guy has the Midas touch

19 “He has an uncanny knack for creating brands that tap into consumer trends and demand.”

20 “McKenzie River kept close tabs on popular culture and consumer trends in everything from music to art.”

21 His proudest achievement is SPARKS

22 The Sparks Formula Build on the energy drink market Build on the energy drink market Alcohol + caffeine = enhanced partying Alcohol + caffeine = enhanced partying

23 “The early adopters of Sparks were spending a significant amount of time on the Internet. We saw that and embraced it. We invited consumers to comment on the Website and post comments without editing them, creating a community of Sparks users who shared ideas and experiences." Minott Wessinger

24 Sparks on Facebook Chat Groups Drink Sparks Die Young Drink Sparks Die Young Sparks Addicts Anonymous Sparks Addicts Anonymous Sparks baby! Sparks baby! I drink Sparks every day of my life I drink Sparks every day of my life Sparks energizes Bermuda Sparks energizes Bermuda

25 Sample Web Postings by High School Students “im only 18 and i had a six pack of sparks in my room and my mom found it, but she had no idea and thought they were jus energy drinks.” “im only 18 and i had a six pack of sparks in my room and my mom found it, but she had no idea and thought they were jus energy drinks.” “Sparks plus any night.. or day.... classic is what i first tried on like prom night or something like it and i was hooked then plus came around and it was love at first sip” “Sparks plus any night.. or day.... classic is what i first tried on like prom night or something like it and i was hooked then plus came around and it was love at first sip”

26 Sparks: The Party Drink “a life-saving invention.i can start drinking at noon, get wasted and tired by 7pm and then drink some sparks and it starts all over again.i love you sparks. that....and it's cheaper than cocaine.” “a life-saving invention.i can start drinking at noon, get wasted and tired by 7pm and then drink some sparks and it starts all over again.i love you sparks. that....and it's cheaper than cocaine.” “i luv sparks because it has that yummy flintstone vitamin taste, gets me drunk and gives me that extra engery i need to get through a nite of partying!” “i luv sparks because it has that yummy flintstone vitamin taste, gets me drunk and gives me that extra engery i need to get through a nite of partying!”

27 Rolling Stone’s Hot Drink

28 Sparks Energy Drinks Total Sales (gallons)

29 The Jackpot Wessinger’s company sold Sparks to SAB Miller in 2006 for $220 million four years after its introduction. Minott Wessinger with rapper DJ Pooh

30 Public Health Implications  Marketing and product design promotes youth binge drinking.  Alcohol + Caffeine = “A wide awake drunk.”  Caffeine masks alcohol’s intoxicating and depressant effects, promotes risk taking.

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32 Letter to Anheuser Busch from 29 State Attorneys General “Given the documented health and safety risks of consuming alcohol in combination with caffeine or other stimulants, Anheuser- Busch’s decision to introduce and promote [Spykes] is extremely troubling.”

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34 California Attorney General Website Underage Drinking - Alcoholic Energy Drinks Alcohol + Energy Drinks = A Hazardous Combination

35 Michele Simon JD, MPH, Marin Institute James F. Mosher JD, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation Download full report at:

36 It is Not Too Late!  Let’s take action before alcoholic energy drinks become entrenched in the marketplace.  Demand corporate responsibility.  Seek regulatory reform at the Federal, State, and Local level.

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