Consumer InformationResponsible drinking information on-label, online and at point-of-sale
It is now commonplace across the EU for many brewers to provide product information that enables consumers to monitor their alcohol intake, encourages responsible consumption and advises consumers on the situations where consumption may not be appropriate. This may also be accompanied by other information at point of sale, utilising glassware and posters in on-trade establishments and multipack packaging in the off-trade.
Such initiatives vary from the legal requirement to label the percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV), to unit information and drinking guidelines, to messages promoting responsible consumption and logos advising people not to consume the product if they are pregnant, driving or underage.
Such messages are also often part of comprehensive approaches, including other digital tools, programs and campaign partnerships that fall under the third pillar of the Beer Pledge, which features those initiatives supported by brewers: to discourage underage purchases and consumption by minors; to prevent drink driving; to advise against consumption when pregnant, trying to conceive or breastfeeding; and to tackle binge drinking and promote a responsible and moderate approach to beer consumption. Further information can thus be found later on in this report where the consumer information aspect is integrated into a broader approach to addressing the issues.
On-label information on responsible drinking
Global operators, which represent over half the EU beer market in volume terms, made a commitment as part of the so-called CEO global commitments to further promote responsible drinking and develop a set of easily understood symbols or equivalent words to discourage drink driving, underage consumption and drinking during pregnancy, then incorporate this into packaging, individually or in combination as appropriate. Such messages may promote responsible consumption but also remind consumers on the occasions when drinking is inappropriate.
Typically including pictograms against drink driving or drinking during pregnancy means incorporating logos where an image of a pregnant woman, a vehicle or a set of car keys is featured with a line struck through it. For some local brands, a logo showing the legal purchasing age may also appear but, since this age limit varies for beer across Europe, the label is not always the most appropriate place to include the logo when the product itself may cross the border and thus into a market where the legislation differs.
By the end of 2013, almost 50% of Carlsberg Group’s packaging in Europe already carried health messages to consumers, with the ambition to further increase this percentage over subsequent years. Whilst 100% of SAB Miller’s global brand labels carried a responsibility message on the legal age, drink driving or pregnancy by 1 May 2012. As a centrally guided project of AB InBev, pictograms of a car combined with a clear “forbidden” sign have been placed on primary packaging, with the timing of inclusion of the pictograms aligned to a planned change in packaging, after which it can take up to 6 months until the product actually arrives in the market place due to production, storage and distribution of the product. By 2014, all artworks had been approved with the new design incorporated onto packaging in Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands and the UK. In the Netherlands the company made a commitment to the European Alcohol and Health Forum that all the company’s primary packaging would have a don’t drink and drive logo by the end of 2014.
In the UK and the Netherlands, the British Beer & Pub Association and the Dutch Brewers association also took commitments to apply the pregnancy logo, with the result that in the Netherlands by the end of 2014, 92% of the beer sold by members of the Dutch Brewers on the Dutch market carried the pictogram. Since such a pictogram is mandated by legislation in France, it is also notable that many brewers in other countries, since they export to France, also include the logo. This is particularly notable in Portugal and Belgium.
All members of the Polish Brewers have committed, following guidelines set by the Association, to having 100% of beer retail packaging (both primary and secondary) for their brands carry labels to help reduce the risks of alcohol misuse and drink driving. The commitment is targeted at all adult beer consumers and aims to ensure that labels appear on all cans and bottles showing a logo with the message “I never drive after drinking alcohol”. To launch the new campaign, a press conference was held for the national and regional media giving the initiative extensive coverage across national TV, radio, press and on the internet.
As a sign of how action can be taken to target specific local issues of concern, in Estonia Saku partnered with the Social Insurance Board to address the specific issue of swimming after drinking, with warning signs on multipacks during the summer drawing people’s attention to the statistics and risks around such behaviour.
Alcohol unit information through labels and other point of sale materials
In the UK a huge number of brewers supported the UK Government’s Responsibility Deal by pledging to ensure that by December 2013 over 80% of products on UK shelves had clear unit labelling and that simple and consistent information on units be available in the on- and off-trade. As an example, Heineken now provides clear unit labelling on over 99% of all cans or bottles in the UK and also, by the end of 2013, had provided almost 20 million unitlabelled glasses to the UK market.
Additionally point-of-sale leaflets were produced by Fuller’s as part of their commitment to promoting greater awareness of units in the on-trade. As well as including the graphics depicting information on units in typical drinks, developed by the British Beer & Pub Association and Drinkaware, the leaflet contains a unit calculator to allow customers to work out the unit content of the drinks they are consuming. The guide, also available to download on the Fuller’s website, gives tips on pacing oneself when drinking, eating when drinking, alternating with soft drinks and advice on choosing lower strength beers. Fifty leaflets were distributed annually to each of the pubs on the company’s entire estate.
Smart applications providing information on the impact of beer and alcohol on the body
In the Czech Republic, Plensky Prazdroj, together with the NGO Sananim, supported the development and launch of smartphone, SMS and web applications to educate consumers as to the relative strengths of alcohol, impact on blood alcohol content (BAC) and to provide them with an easy way to track their consumption. Consumers text information about their sex, age and weight and the time, type and amount of alcohol consumed. Within the space of a minute, they should receive an answer estimating their current BAC, the time in which this level should decrease to 0%, and also brief relevant on any potential risks associated with their current BAC. Consumers were informed about the number to text through point-of-sale materials, the campaign website and the press. In its first four years of operation, the Promile Info service responded to over 400,000 consumer queries, with one third of the people using the service repeatedly. In 2013, The European CSR Award publically recognised the program by awarding it second place, in front of 34 other projects from 27 large companies. In 2015, 8530 people were reached on Facebook and 5894 people engaged with the tool.
Websites informing consumers on responsible drinking advice
In France Brasseurs de France continues to support www.reperes-alcool.com, a website set up by beer producers to inform people about the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations on responsible consumption and allow consumers to calculate their intake. This now also links to www.2340.fr, a website revamped in 2014 by Entreprise & Prevention (a social aspects organisation supported by the largest brewing companies). By December 2014, the Facebook page of the campaign had received over 6,800 “likes” whilst, by February 2015, the website had received over 900,000 unique visitors, with an average of 12,800 visits per month, each visitor spending an average of 3.12 minutes on the site.
Having started in the UK, then spread to Ireland and Malta, Drinkaware websites provide information on the effects of alcohol on the body at different stages as well as useful hints and tips on responsible drinking.
In the UK, the Drinkaware Trust, with funding from beer companies among others as part of a pledge under the Public Health Responsibility Deal, produces resources and expert information to help create awareness around alcohol units, alcohol related issues and the government’s drinking guidelines. They also provide consumers with the facts about alcohol and its effects on their lives and lifestyles, allowing them to make informed decisions about their drinking.
In Ireland the tool provides consumers with the facility to compare their drinking patterns with the Irish Government’s drinking guidelines, maintain an online personal drinks diary and to test their knowledge. Unique visitor numbers grew by 30% from 2012 to 2013 whilst March 2014 was the third highest recorded month for traffic to drinkaware. ie, which has also teamed up with Microsoft Networks (MSN) to develop a mini-site to provide information on attractively priced deals on events and free activities and facilities around Ireland that can help people to ‘Reclaim Your Weekend! The site won the 2013 Digital Media Award for Best Charity website. It also won Gold in the Best
Research Initiative category and Silver in the Best use of Interactive / Digital Media category at the 2013 Irish Media Awards.
In Malta, The Sense Group, a social aspects organisation set up by Simonds Farsons Cisk and other major producers and importers of alcoholic drinks, revamped its consumer information website drinkawaremalta.com in September 2012 with the aim to establish it as the foremost source in Malta for information on responsible consumption. The new site attracted significant interest and drew over 3000 unique visitors in its first six months. Part of the process of increasing consumer knowledge included new consumer research on awareness of responsible consumption, conducted in February 2013.
In the Netherlands a website (“Nuchter Over Bier” – “Sober about beer”) was launched in May 2014 by the Dutch Brewers association to provide information about responsible beer consumption. Supported by independent stakeholders, with the main target group being parents and young adults, the site helps parents to talk about alcohol with their children and is built upon three decades of research from the Dutch Foundation for Alcohol Research (SAR), funded equally by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the industry, with the aim to contribute to a balanced, greater understanding of the effects of moderate consumption.
Available in 8 languages (English, Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Romanian and Dutch), the website www.talkingalcohol.com was created by SABMiller to provide information about the risks and benefits of alcohol consumption. The information comes from a wide range of reputable sources following consultation with experts in epidemiology, toxicology and medicine. The website presents: an interactive trip through the human body to see how it processes alcohol; information about the influence of alcohol on a variety of conditions; views and perspectives from a variety of experts; and facts about beer, including the ingredients and nutrition information for over 200 of the company’s beer brands. By May 2012 the site had received more than 320,000 unique visitors amongst almost half a million visits, with an average 20,000 visits every month. The company continues to promote use of this website, including through its mention on packaging and commercial materials.
A communication platform was launched by Ursus in 2013 that addresses the “Control Generation”, young people from Romania who want to have control on the things they do. It consists of a new area on the website in which “Despre Alcool”, (“About Alcohol”) contributors write articles about being in control. The new contributions include topics such as urban culture, healthy living, cooking, bartending, or parenting. All texts are related to beer culture and responsible drinking, with partners including Romanian Traffic Police, Napoca Rally Academy – Safety Driving School, Regina Maria Private Health Network, and Barmania – Non-Alcohol beer cocktails area. In charge of content were: Cabral (Romanian TV presenter and blogger), Vlad Petreanu (journalist and blogger), Cristina Bazavan (journalist and blogger on culture), Viorel Copolovici (blogger on gastronomy), Daniela Gheorghe (psychologist), and Bogdan Nicolae (bartender).