‘Better-for-you alcohol products swept through Australia, sparking this new research by the Cancer Council. The study analyzed 144 new alcohol products, released under the ‘better-for-you’ theme. The researchers found that these products were unhealthy and just using the illusion of health as a marketing trick in an effort to capitalize on the new healthy living trends in Australia.
- A majority of 85% of the products were full strength alcohol products.
- Most of the energy content came from alcohol, with 62% of products deriving at least 75% of their energy content from alcohol.
- Two thirds of the products did not have complete nutritional information (energy, carbohydrate, sugar) except alcohol content.
Creating a health halo around ethanol
The findings of the study expose that the alcohol products are falsely marketed as more natural, cleaner and free of carbohydrates and “guilt-free” to make it seem like they are healthy, when in fact the main unhealthy ingredient, alcohol, remains unchanged.
We are seeing an emerging and very concerning trend of alcohol companies trying to create a health halo around products that are fundamentally unhealthy, by marketing them as lower in calories, sugar or carbohydrates, using “natural” ingredients or avoiding the use of artificial additives or flavours,” said Julia Stafford, Chair of the Alcohol Working Group, Cancer Council Western Australia.
Julia Stafford, Chair, Alcohol Working Group, Cancer Council Western Australia
Promoting alcohol as “healthy” is a misleading marketing tactic used by the alcohol industry. Product features such as less carbs, less sugar, natural, clean, and more are used since Australians are now seeking healthier behaviors. These healthy features are used to distract people from the fact that alcohol is a cancer-causing, addictive substance linked to over 200 diseases.
Alcoholic products promoted as ‘better-for-you’ rely on an illusion of healthiness, without addressing the ingredient of most concern to health, the alcohol content,” said Ms. Stafford, as per Cancer Council WA.
Focussing on minor differences in sugar and kilojoule content from other alcohol products is nothing more than a distraction from the much bigger issue of the health risks of alcohol itself.”Julia Stafford, Chair, Alcohol Working Group, Cancer Council Western Australia
This is not a new tactic for Big Alcohol. As Movendi International previously reported, a wellness alcohol trend targeting millennials was exposed in the United States (U.S.). Experts called this trend bogus but, the alcohol industry continues to produce and market products which create an illusion of healthiness.
Since the alcopops were exposed for their high sugar and alcohol contents leading to governments levy higher taxes, the alcohol industry rebranded their alcopops. The fast-growing category of ready-to-drink (RTD) alcohol is today’s alcopops. A major focus of RTDs is branding alcohol as healthy option, which misleads people. Hard Seltzer is a prime example of a product falsely marketed as “healthier”.
One in five Australians are unaware of the harm caused by alcohol products. Misleading advertising is used by the alcohol industry to keep people in the dark about the real effects of alcohol. But improved alcohol labeling is one step towards increasing awareness. The right to information is a human right, including the right to know what is in any product being marketed and sold.
Improvements to alcohol marketing regulations as well as advertising bans would further ensure alcohol products with misleading health branding do not hit the shelves, and harmful alcohol promotions would disappear. However, alcohol marketing in Australia is only self-regulated by the alcohol industry. But self-regulation is obviously failing, as mounting evidence proves. It is time for comprehensive, independent regulations on alcohol marketing to better protect people from the products and practices of the alcohol industry.
We call on the Australian Government to introduce comprehensive, independent controls on alcohol marketing, which include restrictions on the use of health-related messaging,” Ms. Stafford said, as per Cancer Council WA.Julia Stafford, Chair, Alcohol Working Group, Cancer Council Western Australia
The West Australian: “Healthy booze marketing misleading: study“