Journal of Social Marketing, Volume 6, Issue 3, July 2016.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the meso-level social forces that influence moderate drinking in young women’s friendship groups, through the application of social capital theory. Design/methodology/approach A qualitative inquiry was undertaken utilising peer-paired and small focus groups, to explore young women’s drinking choices within their existing friendship groups. Guided by emic and etic perspectives, friendship groups were analysed to inform archetypical representations that illustrate group-level social capital exchanges. Findings The approach led to identifying four social capital and drinking archetypes. These archetypes indicate social capital led ‘influencers’ and ‘followers’ and highlight the displays of capital practised by young women in alcohol consumption contexts. Research limitations/implications The social marketing insight drawn from this study of young women’s drinking behaviours will inform social marketers on future strategic directions about how they can use alternative methods to segment the social market of young female drinkers and develop value propositions that will motivate them towards adopting, or maintaining, moderate drinking practices. Originality/value This study contributes to social marketing theory by demonstrating the worth of social capital theory as an alternative lens for social marketers to apply in explorations of group influences that shape behaviour. The research findings in the paper demonstrate how deeper theorisation provides rich insight into the meso-level, complex behavioural influence which effect young women’s alcohol consumption.