USA: People in Lockdown More into Alcohol than Healthcare
Social media analytics in the United States finds people in lockdown are more interested in alcohol than healthcare.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and the addiction epidemic are colliding in the U.S. and already are causing a major toll in the country, the issue is further compounded by people consuming more alcohol.
According to data gathered by the ListenFirst social analytics agency,
- Engagement and growth around nearly 300 alcoholic beverage brands on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were 326.51% higher in March 2020 than the year before.
- Engagement with health care brands rose only 131.35%.
- On Twitter, the number of tweets about beer rose by 40% and about wine by 60%.
The interest in alcohol during the pandemic is not only virtual. People are buying more alcohol as well. Big Alcohol is making it all the more easier by providing delivery services and amping up their online promotions.
As Movendi International previously reported, Nielsen, which measures purchase data, found that the magnitude of the year-over-year increase [in off-premises retail channels] was largest for spirits (+75%), followed by wine (+66%) and beer/flavored malt beverages/cider (+42%). Sales of beer are up 34%.
People are also bulk buying alcohol in the United States. The Cowen investment bank finds that total beverage alcohol sales grew 21.5% for the week ending March 28, versus the year prior.
Another troubling trend is people who are working from home are consuming alcohol during work-hours. A survey of 3,000 Americans working from home this month discovered:
- 67% employees in Hawaii are consuming alcohol during work hours.
- The range of employees consuming alcohol during work hours is between 22% to 47%.
- The state least consuming alcohol during work hours is Mississippi at 13%.
Big Alcohol adds to the problem
Big Alcohol brands have quickly adapted to the situation by using multiple strategies. One is to use social media and online marketing. Another is appearing as responsible and helpful corporate citizens with the situation. For example,
- Guinness obtained 82,918 responses by posting a touching video on Facebook about donating $500,000 to the community in honor of health care workers and orders to avoid crowds over St. Patrick’s Day.
- Budweiser posted “a Facebook pun showing the beautiful buds of spring outside a quarantined window” and a Facebook post asking for names of people “who are going above and beyond in doing the right thing.”
Alcohol brands are obtaining good PR for their brands so they can maintain their consumers and brand loyalty in the long run by appearing to do good. This is an age old strategy used by the industry such as through their corporate social responsibility projects (CSR). However, such initiatives have proven to do nothing to reduce alcohol harm and only build brand image and profits of the alcohol indusry.
Meanwhile, the IRL actions of Big Alcohol tell the truth. In pursuit of their profits, the alcohol industry is also undermining government measures to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus and protect public health in several countries.
- The CEO of U.S.-based Constellation brands, which produces Corona beer, has said they will completely defy orders by the Mexican government to temporarily shut down breweries.
- Union members in Diageo plants in Scotland have requested a halt of operations due to workers being stressed and anxious, but Diageo is continuing production nonetheless.
- In South Africa, SAB Miller was found transporting alcohol despite the government’s lockdown measures banning alcohol transport and sale.