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J Adolesc Health. 2015 May;56(5):564-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.01.018.

Selection of branded alcoholic beverages by underage drinkers.

Author information

Fiorente Media, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts. Electronic address:
Fiorente Media, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts.
Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts; Clinical Addiction Research and Education Unit, Section of General Internal Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.
Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.



The purpose of this study was to identify reasons why youth choose to drink specific brands of alcohol and to determine if these reasons are associated with problem drinking patterns and outcomes.


We conducted an Internet survey of 1,031 youth aged 13-20 years who reported drinking within the past 30 days. Of these, 541 youth who reported having a choice of multiple brands of alcohol the last time they drank stated (yes/no) whether each of 16 different reasons had influenced their choice of a specific brand. We reduced these 16 reasons to three principal components and used latent class modeling to identify five groups of youth with similar reasons for selecting a brand, which we then profiled.


We grouped respondents into the following brand selection groups: "Brand Ambassadors" who were distinguished from other clusters by selecting a brand because they identified with it (32.5% of respondents), "Tasters" who selected a brand because they expected it to taste good (27.2%), "Bargain Hunters" who selected a brand because it was inexpensive (18.5%), "Copycats" who selected a brand because they had seen adults drinking it or seen it consumed in movies or other media (10.4%), and "Others" (11.5%). Brand ambassadors and copycats reported the largest amount of alcohol consumed and had the greatest prevalence of both heavy episodic drinking and negative alcohol-related health consequences.


Underage drinkers who cite marketing influences and adult or media modeling of brand choices as their reasons for selecting alcohol brands are likely to drink more and incur adverse consequences from drinking.


Alcohol advertising; Alcohol brands; Brand choice; Drinking consequences; Underage drinking

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