Shaping The Nation’s Drinking Culture

Founded by the alcohol industry in 2005, Drinkwise Australia is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, which utilises the power of evidenced-based social marketing for the purpose of producing a healthier and safer drinking culture.

The CEO of this organisation is John Scott, who as a former non- executive Director and Chair of the Social Marketing Committee has a wealth of experience working with major policy development and consumer driven communications initiatives.

Drawing upon two decades of knowledge from his role in strategic marketing and research, Mr. Scott has chosen to share with us his insights into the current Australian drinking culture, the past and present operations of DrinkWise and the positive working relationship between DrinkWise and the Australian Hotels Association.

Australian drinking culture

Over the past ten years, we’ve seen some fundamental changes in how Australians are drinking. At this point in time, over eight in ten Australians who drink do so in a safe and moderate manner. Even among those under age and young adults aged 18-24, we are witnessing some positive changes in the intensity and frequency of their alcohol intake.

Australians’ changing drinking habits over the last decade suggests that there is a fundamental shift occurring in our relationship with alcohol. Australians are adopting an increasingly more mature approach as to how they consider and consume alcohol and the decisions they make about the intensity and frequency of drinking.

This suggests that Australians are paying a lot more attention to their personal health and becoming more aware of the harms that can occur due to excessive alcohol consumption.

While the Australian drinking culture will always have some elements that require attention, it would appear that the education and moderation messages promoted by DrinkWise are making a difference.

How to Drink Properly

In more recent years we have targeted young adults – aged 18-24 – as they have historically been considered to be a more ‘at risk’ cohort due to their tendency to ‘binge’ drink. Our ‘How to Drink Properly’ campaign has aimed to produce changes in how they see moderation by positioning it as both cool, classy and worth aiming for. By activating this campaign during Schoolies, University O Weeks and events frequented by young adults, we’ve started to get some great traction. In just over two years, we’ve already started to see some really positive results in their uptake of the campaign and this is reflected in our having won three international marketing effectiveness awards.

You won’t miss a moment

During 2014 and 2015 we’ve also been running the ‘You won’t miss a moment’ (if you DrinkWise) campaign that has centred on sporting, music and culture events sponsored by the alcohol industry. Through this campaign, we are 26 the publication 2015 trying to leverage their involvement and to put out a positive message of moderation that reinforces the importance of enjoying the event without the need to get so intoxicated.

Benefits translated to the on-premise sector

The AHA sit on the DrinkWise Board, and we’ve been looking for ways that we can collaborate to strategically push our campaign messages towards the various target audiences.

One way to do this is through on ground activation during peak times and at occasions that are highly associated with alcohol consumption. For example, on the Gold Coast during schoolies we had activations with some local nightclubs where we provided on premise marketing collateral such as ‘Drink classy’ t-shirts for the bar staff, posters in bathrooms, and DrinkWise branded water bottles to patrons – all of which reinforced the message of having a great time, but being safe and not over doing it.

In the coming year we would like to work closely with the AHA and examine opportunities to really amplify these types of activations. Activating the DrinkWise campaigns on the ground is part of the broader commitment of the industry to taking responsibility for its patrons – and providing safe and responsible licensed environments.

Future goals

Aside from these two new campaigns, we are also looking to refresh our ‘Kids Absorb Your Drinking’ campaign aimed at parents.
We receive a lot of the queries from parents about when they should introduce alcohol to their kids both in the family home but also when their 16 or 17-year-old is attending a party. These situations raise really difficult decisions for parents, so we are looking to offer support and guidance as to how they can set expectations and communicate those expectations to their teenagers. This will be accomplished by targeting parents through social media, and particularly mums, who often play a key influential role in these critical decisions.