Liquor ad ban ‘won’t work’

Finweek English Edition - - ADVERTISING & MARKETING -

A BAN ON LIQUOR AD­VER­TIS­ING won’t achieve its ob­jec­tives, but will cause im­mense harm to the econ­omy. That’s the core mes­sage of re­search con­ducted by macro-economics con­sul­tancy Econometrix for the As­so­ci­a­tion for Re­spon­si­ble Al­co­hol Use. So far so pretty-much- ex­pected, al­though the re­search quan­ti­fies the sur­pris­ing scope of the prob­lem. Ban­ning booze ads would cut gross do­mes­tic prod­uct by R7bn, lose 12 000 jobs and bring tax rev­enues down by R1.8bn.

The eco­nomic costs of al­co­hol abuse are also pretty se­ri­ous: R38bn, or 1.6% of 2009 GDP.

But there’s the other side of the coin. We’re con­sid­ered only a medium con­sump­tion coun­try, based on per capita con­sump­tion. Con­sum­ing 9.5 litres of pure al­co­hol a year, we are higher than the African aver­age of 6.2, but lower than Europe’s 12.2.

And get this: 65% of South Africa’s pop­u­la­tion has never con­sumed al­co­hol – among the high­est ab­sten­tion rates in the world. So do we re­ally have a prob­lem when com­pared with other coun­tries? Econometrix iden­ti­fies three pri­mary prob­lem ar­eas for at­ten­tion: South Africans col­lec­tively don’t drink all that much, but those who do drink,

re­ally let rip. Based on litres of pure al­co­hol con­sumed an­nu­ally, our adult drink­ing pop­u­la­tion is fifth in the world. And we’re cham­pion binge drinkers. Nearly half our drink­ing pop­u­la­tion has a binge ev­ery week, com­pared to a global aver- age of only 12%.

Se­condly, a quar­ter of our con­sump­tion is un­recorded and sold il­le­gally, be­yond the con­fines of con­trols or in­ter­ven­tion poli­cies, such as in­creased taxes. So the liquor in­dus­try al­ready has the prob­lem that only be­came se­ri­ous in to­bacco af­ter ad­ver­tis­ing had been out­lawed: con­tra­band.

This il­le­gal con­sump­tion may also give the lie to the claim that the in­ci­dence of smok­ing has de­clined since to­bacco ad­ver­tis­ing was banned. And thirdly, there are high lev­els of youth drink­ing here. The re­port rec­om­mends a num­ber of re­me­dial steps.

Mis­lead­ingly, Econometrix starts its re­port with the bald state­ment that there’s “no sta­tis­ti­cal re­la­tion­ship be­tween ad­ver­tis­ing ex­pen­di­ture and al­co­hol con­sump­tion in SA.” This is clearly not true. It’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine an in­dus­try spend­ing R4.4bn a year on ad­ver­tis­ing with­out any ev­i­dence that it works.

What they meant to say was ad­ver­tis­ing grows in a growth mar­ket, but in a ma­ture mar­ket like SA’s liquor in­dus­try, it grows about as fast as the pop­u­la­tion. Most of the peo­ple who want to drink al­ready do so. It’s a zero-sum game in which one prod­uct’s gain i s at the ex­pense of its com­peti­tors.

The tim­ing of the re­port is op­por­tune, at a time when govern­ment has shown (in the case of the Li­cens­ing of Busi­nesses Bill) that it is ca­pa­ble of giv­ing way to pub­lic opin­ion. Maybe the elec­tion has some­thing to do with it.

Give that man a Bell’s. Not.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.