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The tricks of the trade: how drinks companies lure us in

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Ads featuring blokes standing around drinking beer have been a staple on Australian television screens for decades.

But alcohol promotion has evolved far beyond this as drinks companies develop ever-more sophisticated ways to convincing people, including the young, to use their products.

Presenters at the AMA National Alcohol Summit gave an insight into some of the tricks and techniques being used by manufacturers to lure in new consumers and keep the rest of us drinking.

Australian Catholic University’s Professor Sandra Jones told of how price was used to convince consumers, particularly young drinkers, to buy more.

Professor Jones said alcopops were often sold in packs of four bottles that were cheaper than buying three individual containers. Another tactic is to award prizes or gifts to purchasers, but only if they buy in bulk.

Social media expert Dr Nicholas Carah of the University of Queensland said alcohol companies were at the forefront in using the internet, mobile communications and social media to promote their products.

Dr Carah said they often set up Facebook pages for their products and encouraged drinkers to share photos and posts depicting their use of the product with other users. He said that in some cases these had become major global platforms: the John Walker whisky Facebook page, for example, has more than 10.3 million fans.

Another tactic is to host parties and other social events where product branding is strategically placed. Party-goers are encouraged to take pictures and share them on their social media networks, inadvertently promoting the product on the company’s behalf.

Adrian Rollins