Background: The alcohol brand preferences of US underage drinkers have recently been identified, but it is not known whether youth are simply mimicking adult brand choices or whether other factors are impacting their preferences. This study is the first to compare the alcohol brand preferences of underage drinkers and adults.
Methods: The authors conducted a cross-sectional assessment of youth and adult alcohol brand preferences. A 2012 Internet-based survey of a nationally representative sample of 1032 underage drinkers, ages 13-20, was used to determine the prevalence of past-30-day consumption for each of 898 alcohol brands, and each brand's youth market share, based on the total number of standard drinks consumed. Data on the brand-specific prevalence of past-30-day or past-7-day consumption among older youth (ages 18-20), adults (ages 21+), and young adults (ages 21-34) was obtained from Gfk MRI's Survey of the Adult Consumer for the years 2010-2012. Overall market shares for each brand, also measured by the total number of standard drinks consumed, were estimated from national data compiled by Impact Databank for the year 2010.
Results: Although most alcohol brands popular among underage drinkers were also popular among adult drinkers, there were several brands that appeared to be disproportionately consumed by youth.
Conclusions: This article provides preliminary evidence that youth do not merely mimic the alcohol brand choices of adults. Further research using data derived from fully comparable data sources is necessary to confirm this finding.
Keywords: Adolescents; alcohol; alcohol brands; alcohol use; youth.