Blog: Chris Brook-CarterRebel rebel

Chris Brook-Carter | 20 December 2004

As we get ever closer to Christmas, so the intensity of our festive celebrations steps up a gear. In response, health organisations around the world increase their efforts to push home a message of moderation and remind us to take it easy.

The change in attitudes towards drink driving in the UK is a now famous example of what can be achieved when that message hits the right note. However, trying to reach those revellers who will simply drink too much over Christmas and beyond is proving a far harder task.

Historically, this has partly been the the fault of apathy and partly the result of naivety. Fortunately, for the industry, serious research into the causes of binge drinking is now surfacing – research this site has covered extensively over the last two months.

It was interesting, therefore, to receive research conducted by Diageo in
the UK, Germany, Australia, and Japan into drinking habits and life stages, which examines the relationship between how drinkers view themselves and those around them and their reasons for drinking.

The findings were used in a submission in Australia to the Victorian Parliamentary Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee's Inquiry into Strategies to Reduce Harnmful Alcohol Consumption.

I thought it would be useful to print excerpts from this research. We would be very interested to hear your comments on this and perhaps how the findings stand up to other drinks companies’ views of their consumers.

“Through extensive global research, Diageo has identified five ‘life-stages’ that adults tend to progress through, each of which influences their drinking choices differently. Individuals move through each stage at differing speeds and different ages, influenced by a whole host of internal and external factors. The life-stages influence drinking occasions, type of beverage and amount consumed.

The five life-stages have been identified as:

Rebellion - Freedom - Exploration - Consolidation - (Re)evaluation

‘Rebellion’ is a universal rite of passage. This stage is characterised by forming an identity and winning acceptance and respect from peers. Their knowledge of alcohol is very limited, and they tend to drink for the effect. It’s about pushing boundaries and limits, and is intense. The focus is on daring and potent release – getting out of control and acting silly. Hangovers are badges of honour.

“These insights demonstrate the value of engaging closely with the industry as partners in addressing alcohol misuse and abuse, and also highlight the folly of pursuing single risk factors such as advertising or beverage type,” said Ron Ainsbury, director of corporate relations for Diageo.


Rebellion - Freedom - Exploration - Consolidation - (Re)evaluation

  • Rebellion is a universal rite of passage
  • Child-adult tensions  - growing up – forming identity
  • Acceptance and respect from peers is key
  • Drink for the effect
  • Knowledge is very limited
  • Focus is on daring and potent release – out of control
  • It’s intense, but relatively short
  • It’s about pushing boundaries and limits
  • Alcohol is not the hero…it’s about losing control and acting silly
  • Hangovers are badges of honour

There is a strong parental and cultural influence on how long or short the rebellion period lasts. If alcohol is taboo, young adults tend to stay in rebellion longer than if alcohol is permitted and part of life.

Celebrating new found Freedom

  • Tribal codes are key – alcohol is tribal social glue
  • Need for men to express masculinity
  • Image and ritual emerge as new drivers
  • Tendency to use alcohol as confidence booster
  • Will dip into as many alcohols as possible – gaining breadth rather than depth of knowledge
  • Price is a major constraint – promotion conscious

Exploration is the reality check

  • A new sense of self…who am I and who do I want to be?
  • Starting out, looking to the future
  • Less hedonistic and slightly more considered
  • Moving from tribal behaviour towards more individual
  • Repertoire narrows across categories but deepens within a favoured category
  • Palate starts to evolve and starts to become more attuned to what it does and doesn’t like
  • Getting ’trashed’ is less desirable
  • Keen to distance self from previous ‘immaturity’

Consolidation because commitment kicks in

  • Big life decisions giving sense of purpose and confidence
  • Alcohol becomes more complementary rather than the focus
  • Earning more money than before – getting into serious commitments
  • More focus on sophistication and status
  • Desire to be seen as more informed and knowledgeable
  • Much more confident about brand choices
  • Also feeling under pressure from busy life, especially with little time left for self

Re-evaluation is a quest for knowledge

  • Confident in own self, life and choices
  • Nostalgia kicks in! Looking back at early days with fondness
  • A new perspective and new curiosity emerges
  • There is a behavioural disconnect with the more hedonistic behaviour of their past
  • Thirst for knowledge and learning
  • Knowledge is enhancing their experience
  • Interested in region, ingredients, method of production
  • It’s about displaying success and discernment


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