Journal of Social Marketing, Volume 6, Issue 2, Page 104-120, April 2016.
Purpose Alcohol availability is strongly related to excessive alcohol consumption. This study aims to examine social marketing’s response to concerns about retailers’ noncompliance with the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) law by proposing and evaluating a social marketing intervention directed at sellers in off-premise stores. Design/methodology/approach The study is based on a non-randomized quasi-experimental design, focusing on an evaluation of the implementation of the “18 rules!” intervention in four cities in Slovenia. Two waves of underage purchase attempts were conducted pre- and post-intervention in 24 off-premise businesses, following a mystery shopping protocol. Findings The initial rate of retailers’ noncompliance with the MLDA law in off-premise establishments was high. After the social marketing intervention, an increase with compliance with the law was observed; the proportion of cashiers selling alcohol to minors after the intervention decreased from 96 to 67 per cent. Qualitative insight suggests an existence of retailers’ dilemma in complying with the MLDA. Research limitations/implications A social marketing approach could contribute to a better understanding of the social working of the MLDA law. Practical implications A social marketing approach could complement the usual enforcement strategies and contribute to a better understanding of the social working of the MLDA law, and encourage deliberate retailers’ compliance with it while developing valuable exchanges among people and stakeholders. Originality/value The paper conceptualizes retailers’ dilemma in complying with the minimal legal drinking age law and offers social marketing response to it. Results of the study show that also solely non-coercive measures have the potential in increasing retailers’ compliance with regulations.


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