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Young South Africans support alcohol ad ban

The government will likely only have moderate support from young South Africans should they go ahead with a proposed ban on the advertising of alcoholic beverages.

This is the finding of a recent survey by consumer insights company Pondering Panda, which polled the opinion of 2856 respondents between the ages of 18 and 34, on the topic of alcohol advertising. The survey found that almost half of respondents (49 per cent) felt that a government ban on alcohol ads was a good idea, compared to 31 per cent who thought it was a bad idea. Twenty per cent did not have an opinion on the question. There was no significant difference of opinion amongst demographic groups.

Respondents were found to believe that advertising did indeed have an effect on how much alcohol people consumed. Almost 59 per cent felt that alcohol ads made people drink more, while 36 per cent believed people would drink the same amount regardless of advertising.

Opinion on this question differed according to race. The survey found that young black South Africans were the most likely to believe alcohol ads caused people to drink more, with 60 per cent feeling this way. In comparison, 53 per cent of coloureds and 47 per cent of whites held this opinion. There were no significant differences of opinion according to age or gender.

Respondents were then reminded that the government had banned cigarette advertising more than a decade ago, and now claimed that adults were smoking less as a result. Respondents’ experience was found to contradict this claim, with 58 per cent believing people were smoking more now than in the past, and 31 per cent saying they hadn’t noticed any change in the amount people were smoking. Only eight per cent believed people were smoking less, and of these, about half (49 per cent) attributed the drop in smoking to the absence of advertising for cigarettes.

Shirley Wakefield, CEO of Pondering Panda, said, ‘It’s clear that if the government does push ahead with a ban on alcohol ads, it will be supported by young people. Young South Africans do perceive advertising as having a meaningful impact on how much people drink, but their experience with smoking would indicate that in practice, banning alcohol advertising would have little effect on sales, and may not be the most effective way for the government to address problem drinking in South Africa. The lack of a causal link between advertising and sales has been well-established in the marketing profession, and is something the government should take into account of when considering decisions like these.’

All interviews were carried out on cellphones across South Africa. Responses were weighted to be nationally representative in terms of age, gender and race.

Pondering Panda is market research and consumer insights company that specialises in mobile research. It has completed over 4 million interviews in its first 20 months of operation. Its commercial success is attributed to the fact that interviews are conducted via cell phones.

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