How Big Alcohol Converts Women to Alcohol
Women are one of Big Alcohol’s major target groups along with children and youth. There are various methods the alcohol industry uses to try and convert women into using alcohol.
Despite alcohol having very specific harms on women, such as the fact that women can get addicted to substances with smaller amounts and in shorter time than men, the alcohol industry continues to aggressively push their products on women. This is partly because women generally consume less alcohol than men, specifically in the global south. Another reason is that major alcohol companies are pursuing “emerging markets”, as older markets in the global north are heavily saturated. Big Alcohol needs new consumers to keep increasing their profits.
Movendi International has previously reported on tactics the alcohol industry uses to appeal to women such as through pink-washing of alcohol, marketing alcohol with other products such as makeup, promoting “low calorie” alcohol as better for women, and marketing alcohol as a gender equalizer by aligning with women empowerment.
One recent example of Big Alcohol exploiting women empowerment is a campaign by Absolut Vodka.
“Cancer-causing poison diluted with sugar and other flavourings”
Lotta Dann who recovered from alcohol use disorder and went on to publish a blog and write two books about her alcohol-free way of life speaks about the issue in her most recent and third book which tackles alcohol industry strategies targeting women. The book is called “The Wine O’Clock Myth”.
In an interview about Big Alcohol’s targeting of women Ms Dann shares important insight into how alcohol marketing aims to hook women on alcohol.
According to Ms Dann, alcohol is presented through marketing as a liquid to fix everything and the alcohol industry purposely hides the addictive nature and health harms of alcohol.
It’s a cancer-causing poison diluted with sugar and other flavourings, to make it palatable and wrapped in fancy packaging,” said Lotta Dann, as per RNZ.
There is also heavy stigma surrounding alcohol use disorder and the alcohol industry plainly places the responsibility on the individual consumer to not develop alcohol use problems – despite the fact that alcohol is, inherently, an addictive harmful substance.
To understand addiction is to understand it’s not as simple as to control yourself – if only it were that simple, if only I could have just said ‘I’m only going to have one’, and only actually had one. Addiction and the human brain doesn’t work that way,” said Lotta Dann.
Pervasive availability of alcohol matters – and that means the psychological, physical, financial and social dimensions of availability. They are all leveraged by the alcohol industry to convert new groups of women to alcohol users. Ms Dann believes the normalization of alcohol in show biz and movies, pervasive advertising, social occasions designed around it, and its presence in the supermarket are things that should change to reduce alcohol’s harm of women.
Our environment enables and denies the fact that it’s so bad, because it’s everywhere,” said Lotta Dann in her interview.
Dann also advocates for health warnings on alcohol labeling so that consumers can make informed choices about what they buy and consume.
[If it’s on the label] people can make informed decisions, because at the moment our discourse is ‘you can look after yourself by managing your intake’, as opposed to ‘this product is inherently dangerous, any level of intake is dangerous’ – so we need the facts so that we can make proper informed decisions,” added Ms Dann.
For further reading:
Women’s Health and Rights: Alcohol Harm Major Blind Spot
Op-Ed by Kristina Sperkova