Aims: To describe the globalized sector of the alcoholic beverage industry, including its size, principal actors and activities.
Methods: Market research firms and business journalism are the primary sources for information about the global alcohol industry, and are used to profile the size and membership of the three main industry sectors of beer, distilled spirits and wine.
Findings: Branded alcoholic beverages are approximately 38% of recorded alcohol consumption world-wide. Producers of these beverages tend to be large multi-national corporations reliant on marketing for their survival. Marketing activities include traditional advertising as well as numerous other activities, such as new product development, product placement and the creation and promotion of social responsibility programs, messages and organizations.
Conclusions: The global alcohol industry is highly concentrated and innovative. There is relatively little public health research evaluating the impact of its many marketing activities.