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Exploring Britain’s attitudes towards alcohol

Stephan Shakespeare
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AS the new government proposes to tackle Britain’s binge-drinking culture, YouGov has looked in detail at the attitudes of those who drink alcohol, as a part of a YouGov SixthSense sector report.

Although 95 per cent of respondents believe that a drink from “time to time” does not hurt, almost half (44 per cent) of those asked agreed that alcohol is bad for your health; not bad enough, however, to prevent 43 per cent saying they drink as much today as they always have.

Yet strongly-held opinions on the effects of alcohol on people’s health do seem to have influenced drinking behavior overall – 33 per cent of those surveyed have cut down on their alcohol consumption in the past year, with a further 10 per cent saying they have given up alcohol completely. And 60 per cent of respondents think that alcohol packaging should contain health warnings to warn people about the negative impacts of alcohol abuse, much like the protocols in place on cigarette packets.

The SixthSense report also identifies different types of drinkers, based on when and where the respondents normally consume alcohol. It found 38 per cent of respondents defined themselves as “weekend drinkers”, who “only really drink at the weekend”. There were also “special occasion drinkers” (26 per cent), “after work drinkers” (14 per cent), “daily drinkers” (12 per cent), and “pub goers” (6 per cent). The most concerning group of respondents classed themselves as “anytime, anywhere drinkers”, who “enjoy a drink at every opportunity” (3 per cent).

The lack of “pub goers” reflects a broader socioeconomic trend, as 47 per cent of alcohol drinkers reported that most of their drinks budget is spent on drinking at home, compared with 27 per cent who said they spent it going out. The “take home” market share of the alcohol industry has increased by over 3 per cent, whereas the “on-trade” (bars, restaurants etc.) market share has dropped by the same amount over the past ten years.

Stephan Shakespeare is founder and chief executive of YouGov