Alcohol related behaviours: Exploratory research
Summary of findings
- Drinking is embedded in British culture for this part of the population - a teenage rite of passage, a social lubricant, a reward at the end of the day. Encouraging more moderate drinking is a significant challenge even if effectively facilitated
- Teens and students are the most likely to consume very high levels of alcohol on a single occasion. Levels of drinking typically moderate with age due to accumulation of responsibilities. Breaking the perception that the drinker is in control is key to creating an environment of responsible drinking; most do not consider the concept of being ‘addicted.’
- Government messages have little credibility with this section of the population; this is a serious impediment to moderating drinking behaviour. Most feel guidelines on ‘safe’ drinking are far too low. Fundamental communication messages need to be made much more relevant (tangible and evidenced) for this part of the population.
- There is substantial evidence of apathy and lack of stimulation amongst this sector of the population. Many default to alcohol. The emotions that drive this are linked with confidence and release. Challenging this over time means addressing deep-seated psychological issues about happiness and life-meaning. In the short-term there is scope to encourage alternative leisure activities and hobbies amongst this sector of the population.
- Primarily, there appear to be opportunities in:
- Imaginative / creative sport and fitness opportunities (e.g. street dance, kick-boxing)
- Education or skills development opportunities, across age groups
- A range of activities to strengthen the concept of ‘Family’ (e.g. courses that can be completed as a family)
- Alternative leisure facilities, e.g. dry Youth Clubs
- Readdressing the ‘norms’ of expected drinking behaviour amongst young people / students.
- There are also opportunities to exert more control in bars and pubs to moderate binge drinking opportunities, including:
- Preventing premises from selling cheap (£1) shots / actively promoting shots
- Better co-ordination between establishments and enforcement of bar staff duties in refusing to serve under-age or drunk customers.
- Better supervision of activities within pubs and clubs
- Control over drinking venue leafleting amongst students
- Encouraging ‘Family Nights’ in bars.
This research assesses the role that alcohol plays in the lives of those who routinely consume higher amounts of alcohol than recommended by the Government’s ‘safe drinking’ guidelines.
It seeks to understand the underlying motivators and values that lie behind binge drinking, and to identify whether it is possible, and how, to:
- change the ‘lead-in’ patterns of behaviour that lead to excessive drinking
- develop products or services which can deliver and satisfy the same needs that are currently met by excessive drinking
The specific objectives set out for the research were as follows:
- to understand the context of alcohol within patterns of social behaviour
- to identify the perceived benefits from alcohol consumption – functional returns, emotional and psychological benefits
- to examine the push factors which increase level/frequency of drinking
- to test awareness of health issues around alcohol
- to explore potential motivators towards a more healthy lifestyle, and possible barriers to change
- to identify possible ways to engineer social behaviour change, which will lead to lower alcohol consumption.
In the year to January 2008, retail auditors AC Nielsen calculated the UK alcoholic drinks market at £34 billion (Total Liquor Sales), or £672 per adult over the course of the year. The Off Licence trade recorded growth, driven by aggressive supermarket discounting.
It is well-documented that sustained or excessive consumption of alcohol can have a serious effect on health, both mental and physical, with consequent impact on individual welfare, as well as NHS resources and the economy, through loss of work days.
There has been an increase nationally in the proportion of the public consuming alcohol beyond safe levels. This trend has also been witnessed in the Kirklees area (evidenced through the CLIK survey). Kirklees Partnership wishes to take action and develop a strategy to influence and change patterns of local alcohol-related behaviour.
The Mintel research included a segmentation identifying four key consumer clusters, one of which (‘Quantity over Quality’; 19% of respondents) is of particular concern.
This group includes both sexes (bias towards males), and is weighted towards less affluent C2DE consumers, and frequent smokers. There is also a high proportion of those who are single and not working (e.g. students or unemployed).
Research to understand the motivations and values behind heavy / binge drinking amongst residents of Kirklees, and to identify whether it is possible, and how to, change the ‘lead-in’ patterns of behaviour that lead to excessive drinking, and develop products or services which can satisfy the same needs that are currently met by excessive drinking.
Previous research had enabled Kirklees Partnership to identify groups who were considered at risk from harmful or hazardous drinking.
The research approach involved a combination of group discussions and depth interviews from these target markets. These consisted of two groups with each of the following eight segments. For the older age ranges, one of the two groups was made up of smokers and one was made up of non-smokers.
- ABC1, 25-40, female, income £25K+
- ABC1, 25-40, male, income £25K+
- C2DE, 25-40, male, income < £25K
- C2DE, 25-40, female, income < £25K
- Students, 18-24, male
- Students, 18-24, female
- Young persons, 16-18, male
- Young persons, 16-18, female
The group approach was complemented by 4 depth interviews conducted with each of the first six of the above groups. The depth environment provided us with an opportunity to explore areas about first experiences of alcohol more fully, and to probe in detail on levels of concern about health risks.
Data collection methodology
16x group discussions (number in each group not specified)
24x depth interviews (4x with each of 6x groups)
Kirklees. Not further specified.