Journal of Social Marketing, Volume 6, Issue 4, October 2016.
Purpose The objective of this study is twofold. First, it examines the communication strategies pursued by firms related to alcohol beverages in Spain during a decade with major changes in alcohol marketing regulations. Second, it analyzes the relationship between these strategies and underage alcohol consumption before and after 2007. Design/methodology/approach Panel data methodology is implemented using data from ESTUDES national survey (average sample size 26,000 interviews, 2004-2010) and INFOADEX (nationwide advertising expenditure, 1999-2013). Findings The results show that, under a restrictive alcohol marketing framework, firms related to alcohol beverages adapt their communication strategies: Budget deviation from advertising to sponsorship. Regarding alcohol quantity and frequency models, the relationship between alcohol advertising expenditure and underage alcohol consumption after 2007 is very small but still positive and significant. However, contrary to expectations, in the case of alcohol sponsorship the relationship between expenditure and underage alcohol consumption has not been affected by the observed budget deviation from advertising to sponsorship after 2007. Research limitations/implications Changes in alcohol advertising and sponsorship regulation lead firms related to alcohol beverages to change their communication strategies to overcome new regulatory restrictions and to reach their target group. Overall, despite the relationships between both advertising and sponsorship expenditure and underage alcohol consumption diminish between periods; they still remain positive and significant. Closer and updated monitoring of alcohol communication strategies pursued by firm is needed to keep controlling the alcohol advertising and sponsorship exposure to under age people. Originality/value This is a pioneer study in analyzing communication strategies within the Spanish alcohol beverages sector and in proposing a model to analyze the dynamic effect of such strategies on underage alcohol consumption.