|Summary of Findings: What Teens and Adults are Saying
This summary highlights the major findings of two nationally representative telephone studies conducted among 600 Americans teens ages 14 to 18 and among 500 Americans 21 years of age and older. The "Alcopops" polls were conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, Inc. for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
These polls represent a detailed portrait of the attitudes of American teenagers and adults toward "Alcopops," the newer, sweeter alcoholic malt beverages that include the popular brands Mikes Hard Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice and Doc Otis Hard Lemonade. The surveys objective was both to measure the awareness and usage of Alcopops among youth and adults and explore the opinions and attitudes of Americans about the marketing of "alcopops" to underage people.
The polls clearly demonstrate that "alcopops" are extremely popular among young people. Teenagers are aware of them, they can cite specific brands, they drink them and they have easy access to them. Teens and adults overwhelmingly believe that "alcopops" are being marketed to underage people and they cite the product attributes of "alcopops," particularly their taste, as the reason they believe underage people are targeted by companies that produce them. There is a consensus among adults that something has to be done. Americans support a wide range of policies that restrict the marketing of "alcopops" to our youth.
The major conclusions of the study are as follows:
1. Both teens and adults believe that liquor and beer companies target young people with their advertising and that this contributes to underage drinking. These sentiments are stronger among teens than adults.
Targeting Underage People
Eight in ten (81%) teens and 57% of adults agree that beer and liquor companies target underage drinkers or teenagers with their ads.
Advertising Contributes to Underage Drinking
Nearly 8 in 10 (78%) teens and two-thirds of adults (65%) say that alcohol advertising contributes to underage drinking. Younger teens ages 14 to 16 (82%) and teenage girls (82%) are more likely to identify a link between advertising and underage drinking than older teens ages 17 to 18 (72%) and teenage boys (73%). Adult women (65%) are more likely than adult men (61%) to make this connection.
2. Both teenagers and adults recognize that "alcopops" are much more popular among underage drinkers than among adults. Teens are three times as likely to be aware of "alcopops" and nearly twice as likely to have tried them.
Over two-thirds of teens (68%) and 72% of adults say that "alcopops" are much more popular among teens than people ages 21 and over. Awareness levels and usage patterns clearly demonstrate that "alcopops" appeal more to underage people than to adults of legal drinking age.
3. "Alcopops" appeal to young people because they are sweet, they do no taste like beer or liquor and they are very easy to get. Teens and adults cite those product attributes as the reasons they believe "alcopops" are marketed to youth.
A majority of teens and adults say that "alcopops" are marketed to people under 21
When asked what age group "alcopops" were marketed to, a majority of teens (59%) and 66% of adults mentioned either people under the age of 21 (53% of teens and 54% of adults) or all people, including those underage (3% of teens and 6% of adults).
Teens and adults say that "alcopops" are marketed to youth because of their product attributes
There is a strong consensus among teens and adults that companies make "alcopops" taste sweeter than beer and liquor because this is appealing to young people.
Taste is THE major reason teens try "alcopops." Nearly 9 in 10 or greater of teens cite taste as an important motivator for trying "alcopops":
"Alcopops" are easy to get from friends and at parties
After taste, "easy to get" is the second most important reason teens decide to try "alcopops."
More than 8 in 10 teens (83%) say that it would be easy for teens to get "alcopops" if they wanted to and nearly half (46%) said it would be very easy. More than 6 in 10 adults (62%) say they think it would be easy for teens to get "alcopops."
Nearly 6 in 10 teens (59%) say they get alcohol, including "alcopops," from friends. In fact, as testimony to the growing popularity of "alcopops" among young people, 89% of teens say that "hearing other teenagers talking about them" was an important factor in influencing teens to try "alcopops," followed closely by "friends or classmates drink them" (87%) and "see them at parties" (87%). Clearly, teens are regularly exposed to "alcopops."
A disturbing finding of the study is that 1 in 4 (24%) underage people are able to buy "alcopops" at convenience stores.
4. "Alcopop" product attributes, especially taste, are the major reasons teens prefer "alcopops" to beer and liquor.
Teens prefer "alcopops" 2 to 1 over beer
When asked what one type of alcoholic drink they would most prefer to drink, 30% of teens said "alcopops" compared to only 16% for beer and 16% for mixed drinks.
Teens chose "alcopops" over beer or cocktails because of their product attributes
Over half of teens (52%) say that they and their friends choose "alcopops" over beer or cocktails because of their product attributes: sweet taste (25%), hide the taste of alcohol (17%), and easy to drink (10%).
5. "Alcopops" are a gateway drink because teens say "alcopops" make it more likely that they will try other alcoholic beverages. And adults are worried about drinks that encourage experimentation with alcohol.
Nearly all teens (90%) agree that Alcopops make it more likely that teenagers will try other alcoholic beverages.
Adults are concerned about this issue. Nearly 6 in 10 adults (57%) express concern that Smirnoff, a liquor company famous for its vodka, has introduced Smirnoff Ice and has advertised its product on television.
6. Adults are concerned enough about this issue to support restrictions on the marketing of "alcopops" to youth.
There is strong support among adults to enact policies that restrict the way companies market "alcopops" to protect underage people.
To view further information on "alcopops," click here.