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Support for alcohol packaging health warnings

Attitudes towards drinking have changed in accordance with a new societal emphasis on health and fitness, according the latest research by YouGov SixthSense. The report reveals that 60% of UK adults think that alcohol packaging should contain health warnings to warn people about the detrimental effects of alcohol use, much like the protocols in place on cigarette packets.

Although 95% of respondents believe that a drink from ‘time to time’ does not hurt, almost half (44%) of those asked agreed that alcohol is bad for your health. Strongly held opinions on the effects of alcohol on people’s health seem to have influenced drinking behavior – 33% of those surveyed have cut down on their alcohol consumption in the past year with a further 10% saying they have given up alcohol completely.

Despite the health concerns, alcohol is unlikely to be deposed as the modern ‘drug of choice’, as 43% say they still drink as much as they always have.

There is also evidence to suggest that, amongst those who still drink, habits are changing.

The report reveals that people are more likely to buy their alcohol in supermarkets with the intention of drinking at home – the ‘take home’ market share of the alcohol industry has increased by over 3%, where as the ‘on-trade’ (bars, restaurants etc.) market share has dropped by the same amount over the past ten years. This is not surprising, as 47% of alcohol drinkers say that most of their drinks budget is spent on drinking at home, in contrast to 27% saying that most of their budget is spent on drinking when out.

There has also been a change in the hospitality industry, with the role of the traditional pub giving way to a new ‘continental’ model.

The ‘watering hole’ image of the British pub has been emphatically challenged by the emergence of gastropubs and restaurants that offer a holistic eating and drinking experience.

Commenting on this trend, James McCoy, research director for YouGov SixthSense, says: “The on-trade model for selling alcohol in the UK has steadily shifted away from the old boozer, dominated by beer drunk in long ‘sessions’ and towards the modern pub-restaurant, often sharing characteristics with the continental café or brasserie.”

Note: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The survey was carried out online. Total sample size was 2,387 UK adults aged 16+. Fieldwork was undertaken between March 2-4, 2010.
The full report on alcoholic drinks is available to buy now from YouGov SixthSense.

1 May 2010 - Felicity Murray