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Alcohol and the Strategic Marketing Behind its Appeal

Jul 12, 2023 | Addiction, Alcohol

Alcohol has consistently held a prominent place in social gatherings and cultural practices for centuries. Beyond its well-known intoxicating effects, alcohol’s appeal is deeply rooted in strategic marketing efforts that captivate consumers and shape their perceptions. Without even knowing it, we are subjected to countless marketing tactics every single day. From the grocery store to the television, alcohol-focused media is everywhere. 

In this blog, we delve into the world of alcohol marketing, exploring the various strategies employed to make it so enticing. From clever branding and emotional appeals to leveraging social influences, the alcohol industry has honed its marketing techniques to establish a powerful presence in the market. 

Branding and Identity

Just one of the many factors that make alcohol appealing is the art of branding. Alcohol brands spend millions of dollars on crafting distinctive identities that resonate with their target audience. The visual elements, like packaging and bottle design, play a huge role in creating a sense of luxury and sophistication. As an example, a sleek, minimalist bottle design with an intricate label can evoke a sense of exclusivity and quality for those that purchase it.

Alcohol brands often align themselves with specific lifestyles or values, targeting a specific demographic. They associate their products with experiences like celebrations, success, camaraderie, or even just relaxation. By doing so, they tap into the aspirations and desires of consumers, creating a perceived connection between their product and a desirable way of life. Because of this, consumers are more likely to associate positive emotions and experiences with the brand and develop brand loyalty.

Emotional Appeals

Alcohol marketing also relies on emotional appeals to tap into consumers’ desires for things like connection and excitement. Advertisements will portray idyllic scenarios of social gatherings, friendships, romance, and adventure, all significantly enhanced by the consumption of alcohol. These emotionally charged messages create a link between the product and positive experiences, creating a desire to replicate those feelings by consuming the advertised brand.

An example of this is seen through the beer brand Corona. Their ads feature two chairs on the sand at a secluded beach. This simple, yet effective, marketing strategy plants the seed for a vacation fueled by alcohol. Viewers find themselves craving a beer on the beach with their partner. This subliminal messaging is highly effective at selling their product.

To add gas to the fire, alcohol ads often emphasize the concept of “escape.” They suggest that alcohol can provide an outlet from daily stresses, transforming ordinary moments into extraordinary ones. These appeals target consumers seeking relaxation or a break from their routine, tempting them with the promise of a temporary reprieve through alcohol consumption. For the average overworked American, this is wildly tempting.

Influencer Marketing and Social Validation

In the past five to six years, influencer marketing has emerged as a powerful tool for alcohol brands to reach their target audience. By partnering with popular social media influencers, brands can leverage their massive following and credibility to promote their products. These influencers portray an aspirational lifestyle that aligns with the target audience’s desires, making the association with alcohol appear even more enticing.

Plus, alcohol marketing usually incorporates social validation by showcasing groups of attractive and socially accepted individuals enjoying alcohol together. This social aspect creates a sense of belonging and acceptance, leading consumers to associate alcohol consumption with social success. Such associations can subtly influence individuals to seek out alcohol as a means of fitting in or enhancing their social experiences.

Cultural and Traditional Significance

Alcohol has deep cultural roots and is often associated with celebrations, rituals, and traditional practices. Alcohol marketing cleverly taps into these cultural associations, emphasizing the role of alcohol in fostering social connections and shared experiences. By positioning their products as an integral part of cultural festivities or rituals, brands can capitalize on the emotional significance attached to these occasions. This not only strengthens brand loyalty but also perpetuates the idea that alcohol is necessary for a complete and fulfilling social experience.

Examples in Action

All it takes is a quick scroll on social media or a stroll through the grocery store to see this marketing in action. If you begin to pay more attention to the marketing and branding of alcohol, it will be impossible not to notice the strategy behind their campaigns. Below are just a few specific examples of alcohol brands that have effectively utilized strategic marketing to create appeal:

  • Absolut Vodka: Absolut Vodka has mastered the art of branding and identity. With its iconic transparent bottle and a minimalist label featuring its name in bold font, Absolut exudes a sense of elegance and sophistication. The brand has also collaborated with renowned artists to create limited-edition bottle designs, tapping into the art world and appealing to consumers who appreciate creativity and exclusivity.
  • Coca-Cola and Jack Daniel’s Partnership: Coca-Cola and Jack Daniel’s joined forces to create the popular drink, “Jack and Coke.” This partnership leverages the emotional appeal of camaraderie and celebration. By associating the brand with social gatherings and good times, they have successfully captured the attention of consumers who crave a sense of connection and enjoyment in their drinking experiences.
  • Guinness: Guinness has strategically marketed itself by emphasizing its Irish heritage and cultural significance. By linking the brand to Irish traditions, such as St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and pub culture, Guinness has cultivated a strong association with conviviality and authenticity. This cultural appeal has made Guinness a beloved choice for many consumers, especially during festive occasions.
  • Smirnoff’s Recent Campaign: Smirnoff’s marketing campaign, “Exclusively for Everybody,” aimed to challenge the perception that premium vodka is only for a select few. By positioning its product as accessible and inclusive, Smirnoff sought to attract a wider consumer base. The campaign featured diverse individuals in its advertisements, reinforcing the idea that Smirnoff vodka is for everyone, regardless of background or social status.
  • Corona’s Beach-Themed Campaigns: Corona has successfully created an association between its beer and the beach lifestyle. Through its advertising campaigns featuring pristine beaches, clear blue waters, and relaxing outdoor settings, Corona taps into the desire for escape and relaxation. This strategic marketing approach positions Corona as the beer of choice for those seeking a tropical vacation vibe, even if they are simply enjoying a drink at home.

These examples highlight the diverse strategies employed by alcohol brands to make their products appealing to consumers. Through branding, emotional appeals, cultural associations, and lifestyle imagery, these brands have successfully established themselves in the market and captured the attention of their target audience.


Alcohol’s appeal goes far beyond its intoxicating effects, largely owing to the strategic marketing techniques employed by the industry. Clever branding, emotional appeals, influencer marketing, and cultural associations all contribute to the allure of alcohol. We as consumers have to recognize that the strategic marketing of alcohol carries potential implications that extend beyond the allure it creates. Responsible drinking and public health should always be prioritized and considered in the midst of these captivating marketing campaigns.

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Keywords: Alcohol consumption; Alcohol branding; Marketing alcohol; Alcohol brands