Alcohol advertising in disguise? How exposure to zero-alcohol products and promotions drives children’s perceptions of alcohol

November 2023

Investigators: Dr Ashlea Bartram, Professor Jacqueline Bowden, Professor Svetlana Bogomolova, Dr Jo Dono, Dr Aimee Brownbill, Mr Nathan Harrison, Ms Jacqui Garcia, Associate Professor Murthy Mittinty

Project description: 

Zero-alcohol beverages (<0.5% alcohol) resemble alcohol in appearance and taste, and often feature alcohol brands. The availability and promotion of these beverages are rapidly increasing in Australia, especially in supermarkets and other places freely accessible by children, where alcohol sales are restricted to prevent harm. Parents, policymakers, businesses, and researchers are concerned that zero-alcohol beverages – particularly those that share a brand and packaging look and feel with alcoholic beverages – may work as alcohol advertising in disguise, undermining regulations aimed at limiting children’s exposure to alcohol products and promotions, and potentially acting as a gateway to alcohol and its associated harms.

This project will empirically investigate whether exposure to zero-alcohol products and promotions affects adolescent children’s perceptions of alcohol. Building on investigators’ recent research regarding parent and adolescent perceptions of zero-alcohol beverages, this project will employ two studies (one experimental, one cross-sectional survey) to investigate:

(1)      the extent to which exposure to zero-alcohol beverage products and promotions affects adolescent children’s perceptions of alcoholic beverages.

(2)      whether these effects differ between zero-alcohol beverages featuring brands used on alcoholic beverages (‘brand extension’) and those featuring brands that are unique to zero-alcohol beverages (‘unique brands’).