Alcohol Industry Using Facebook to ‘Groom‘ Youths

Facebook is a great tool to use to stay connected and promote your business, but should it be used to lure a target market not yet old enough to purchase a product? According to researchers, that’s what is happening as alcohol companies leverage the social media platform to nurture a new generation of drinkers. According to an article on Stuff, Facebook is the perfect marketing platform as young people are so engaged in the culture they can’t tell the difference between basic information and advertising. A drinking culture survey conducted in 2011 involved more than 150 individuals between the ages of 18 and 25. Among these individuals, most were consuming alcohol with the goal of getting drunk. And, they’re using Facebook to arrange their social drinking. These individuals were contributing to their social media footprint with updates and pictures related to their drinking. As these posts and images continue to circulate, along with brand pages related to bars and alcohol, the culture of intoxication is becoming normalized among this age group. Even worse, these individuals didn’t realize that brand pages were built as a form of advertising. The games and giveaways included on these pages were designed to appeal to children and teenagers – individuals way far young to be engaging with the brand. All they have to do is “like” the page and these young people start receiving regular updates. While it may be a proven method to use social media platforms to promote a brand to the target audience, targeting those not legally old enough to consume is no different than the tobacco industry targeting those too young to purchase cigarettes. Philip Morris has been demonized for years for this activity, something we see now happening with brands using Facebook to advertise to the wrong crowd and Facebook allowing it to happen.

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