Owning alcohol-branded merchandise common, associated with drinking behaviors among teens

March 2, 2009

Between 11 percent and 20 percent of U.S. teens are estimated to own T-shirts or other merchandise featuring an alcohol brand, and those who do appear more likely to transition through the stages of drinking from susceptibility to beginning drinking to binge drinking, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Alcohol-branded merchandise includes T-shirts, hats or other items that feature a particular brand of beverage, according to background information in the article. Increasing evidence suggests that this specialized type of marketing effectively reaches teenagers and is associated with alcohol use.

Auden C. McClure, M.D., M.P.H., of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Hanover, N.H., and colleagues conducted a telephone survey of a representative sample of 6,522 U.S. adolescents age 10 to 14 years in 2003. The teens reported information about their drinking behaviors and drinking susceptibility, measured by items assessing responses to peer offers, intentions to drink and positive expectancies about drinking. At three follow-up surveys conducted every eight months, participants answered questions about changes in drinking habits and ownership of alcohol-branded merchandise.

The percentage of teens owning alcohol-branded merchandise ranged from 11 percent at the eight-month survey to 20 percent at the 24-month survey. The most commonly owned products were clothing (64 percent) and headwear (24 percent), with the remaining items a wide array that included jewelry, key chains, shot glasses, posters and pens. Most (75 percent) of the brands were beer, including 45 percent that featured the Budweiser label.

Among teens who had never drank alcohol, owning alcohol-branded merchandise and susceptibility to drinking were reciprocally related, with each predicting the other during an eight-month period. In addition, owning alcohol-branded merchandise and having a susceptible attitude toward drinking predicted both the initiation of alcohol use and binge drinking, even after controlling for other risk factors.

"Alcohol-branded merchandise is widely distributed among U.S. adolescents, who obtain the items one-quarter of the time through direct purchase at retail outlets," the authors write. "The results also demonstrate a prospective relationship between alcohol-branded merchandise ownership and initiation of both alcohol use and binge drinking. This is the first study to link alcohol-branded merchandise ownership to more problematic youth alcohol outcomes that predict morbidity [illness] and mortality [death]. Notably, the relationship is independent of a number of known social, personality and environmental risk factors for alcohol use."

Together with the literature to date, the study "provides strong evidence that alcohol-branded merchandise distribution among adolescents plays a role in their drinking behavior and provides a basis for policies to restrict the scope of such alcohol-marketing practices," they conclude.

More information: Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009;163[3]:211-217.

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Explore further: Alcohol in movies influences young teens' drinking habits

Related Stories

Alcohol in movies influences young teens' drinking habits

February 20, 2012
Young teens who watch a lot of movies featuring alcohol are twice as likely to start drinking compared to peers who watch relatively few such films, reveals research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Booze-branded merchandise may spur teen drinking

April 1, 2016
(HealthDay)—Teens who own caps, shirts, and other merchandise displaying alcohol logos are more likely to drink, a new study finds.

TV alcohol advertising may play role in underage drinking

April 29, 2012
Minors who were familiar with television alcohol advertisements were more likely to have tried alcoholic beverages and binge drink than those who could not recall seeing such ads, according to a study presented at the Pediatric ...

Alcohol marketers use drinker identity and brand allegiance to entice underage youth

December 14, 2012
While exposure to alcohol marketing is prevalent, and associated with both initiation and progression of alcohol use in underage youth, exactly how it works is not well understood. A new study of alcohol-specific cognitions ...

Recommended for you

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gopher65
not rated yet Mar 03, 2009
I found this as well. But it isn't *just* the advertising merchandise; it is a complex linkage between peer pressure and the branded merchandise.

It is odd, though, that having a desire to buy branded merchandise makes you more likely to consume the product in question (this is the case with *all* branded merchandise, not just alcohol-branded merchandise). Such advertising campaigns are remarkably effective.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.