Aspirational Branding for Youth Substance Use Prevention


A new study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs examined whether youth who were able to identify an aspirational alcohol brand were at higher risk for underage drinking. 

Results indicated that it was common for youth to have an aspirational alcohol brand and that it was independently associated with subsequent underage alcohol use and misuse.  

The top five reported brands were Budweiser, Smirnoff, Corona, Jack Daniels, and Bacardi.  Each are heavily advertised brands. 

Prevention Implications 

These results highlight the need for marketing literacy education among youth, illustrating typical aspirational branding strategies used by each of the five alcohol brands that target or might appeal to youth and young adults.  

Prevention programs should also use aspirational branding communication aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles among youth and young adults as alternatives to and protection against substance use. 

For example, prevention providers can illustrate aspirational images of youth engaged in a wide variety of physical activities and healthy behaviors to model healthy lifestyles and normalize them across youth populations. 

Appealing images should be accompanied by vivid terms highlighting positive outcomes and images resulting from engaging in specific physical activities and healthy habits like eating nutritiously, getting adequate sleep, and actively controlling stress. 

Aspirational image terms like being fit, active, energetic, confident and successful are powerful tools that increase motivation to change behavior.    

Lastly, by giving youth an opportunity to set goals to avoid substance use but also improve one or more fitness and health behaviors helps focus and codify youth efforts to act on and achieve future, desired lifestyles and images. 

Conclusion 

Prevention and health professionals should use aspirational branding to increase awareness of marketing strategies used by alcohol, tobacco and marijuana companies, as well as to promote positive, alternative lifestyles among youth and young adults that are resilient to substance use and misuse. 

Learn more about substance use prevention programs that integrate the promotion of fitness, health, goal setting and positive images: http://preventionpluswellness.com 

Read the research abstract: https://www.jsad.com/doi/abs/10.15288/jsad.2018.79.408

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