Drink responsibly promo that might work? Not if the BMA can help it

The Sainsbury’s solution to binge drinking? Cut the price of beer, wine and mixer cans
Sainsbury’s found itself under fire yesterday after it launched a drive to encourage responsible drinking – by cutting the price of alcohol.
The first thing that jumped off the page for me here was the fact that it's not up to Sainsburys to come up with a solution to 'binge drinking'. It's up to the customer what they do with the product once purchased and is neither the responsibility nor business of the seller.

I think Sainsburys have made the mistake of trying to package an alcohol promotion as a responsibility drive in order to appease the righteous pressure groups. What businesses consistantly fail to realise is that these pressure groups are the enemy. There simply is no compromise to be had with these people, they need to be faught off with a pointy stick.

The store giant said its reductions on so-called lighter wines, bottles of beer and mixer cans of spirit, would inspire people to switch to lower alcohol products or choose smaller measures.
Campaigners, however, dismissed the move as a cynical marketing stunt. They argue that low prices encourage higher consumption.
This may well be a marketing stunt, but as responsibility drives go, I don't think this one should be dismissed so readily.

Speaking from my own experience and habits I know full well that minimum alcohol pricing would make me poorer rather than cut my consumption, however I would certainly pick a lower priced brand, even if it meant sacrificing a few percentage points of alcohol.

Where the Government would simply make me pay more tax, this promotion by a private business would nudge me into drinking lower strength booze because of the price difference. If it hadn't been publicised in the Daily Mail, I probably wouldn't realise I was doing it either.

But no, if you're a campaigner with a vested interest in keeping the binge drinking myth going, lower prices equals higher consumption. No ifs, no buts.
The promotion, which is supported by health minister Paul Burstow, runs until January 24.
Thanks, I'll make sure I pop down in plenty of time.
There will also be a 25 per cent reduction on Diageo’s alcopop-style cans of mixer drinks, such as Smirnoff and diet cola and Morgan’s spiced rum and cola.
The store will also be selling four- packs of 330ml bottles of lager, such as Heineken, for £4.
Sainsbury’s claims that encouraging people to drink spirits in a standard quantity, as in a can, helps individuals control their consumption. It also says promoting lager in 330ml bottles, rather than larger 440ml cans, encourages people to drink less.
Makes sense. Who pours a spirit at home and keeps the measure within 35cl?
However, it is also running price cut promotions on large packs. For example, a pack of four Stella Artois 440ml cans has been cut by 50p to £4, while a Foster’s lager pack of 15 440ml cans is one third off at just £9.19.
When did four beers become a 'large pack'?

Alcohol Concern chief executive Eric Appleby (New guy? One to watch*) said the campaign ‘rather cynically uses the trappings of responsibility as a promotional hook in what is really just product marketing’.
Maybe so but the message is still correct. Methods like these, product marketing or not, are more likely to have more of an effect on alcohol consumption than Alcohol Concerns holy grail, minimum pricing.
The British Medical Association said offering cheap prices on low alcohol drinks was not enough. It has called for a minimum price on units of alcohol, a move supported by Prime Minister David Cameron who is said to want to see the level set at between 40p-50p per unit.
It's been said time and time again that putting up prices will not lower consumption or stop any of the alcohol problems that we are supposed to have. Maybe dropping the price of lower strength beers and premixed spirits would actually have an effect.
A BMA spokesman said:
This should be good. Any wagers on the buzz words before he begins?
‘Alcohol misuse leads to serious ill-health, premature death and is linked to violence and anti-social behaviour.
Of course. Does it do anything else?
It also costs the NHS billions of pounds every year.’
Funny that. I recently read a good peice that debunked NHS admissions figures.
It’s largely a function of methodology. Alcohol-related admissions are calculated in such a way that if you are unlucky enough, say, to be involved in a fire and admitted to hospital for the treatment of your burns, it will count as 0.38 of an alcohol-related admission – unless you happen to be under 15, when it won’t count at all.
If you drown, it counts as 0.34 of an alcohol-related admission – though most people unlucky enough to drown aren’t admitted to hospital. Getting chilled to the bone (accidental excessive cold) counts for 0.25 of an admission, intentional self-harm to 0.20 per cent of an admission.
These fractions apply whether or not there was any evidence you had been drinking before these disasters befell you.
Of course if your livelihood depends on a serious alcohol problem, you are bound to be able to demonstrate that one exists. Lies, damn lies etc...

*A quick Google of Eric Appleby brought up this:

I don't know if it's the same Eric though. Could be anybody....


Dick Puddlecote said...

Bucko said...