Marketing Your Alcohol Products on Social Media

Within the adult beverage industry, there are three significant supplier associations: Beer Institute, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, and Wine Institute. Together these commissions have voluntarily established a set of guidelines for marketing alcoholic beverages. Their goal is to restrict the number of times those who are under age are exposed to advertising. While each has established individual guidelines for their sector of the market, there are some common themes:

  • Digital marketing efforts should focus solely on those who are of legal drinking age.

  • Digital marketing can be distributed only in areas where 71.6% of the audience is of legal drinking age.

  • Age affirmation is needed before engaging in direct communication with the audience.

  • All content on social sites and platforms must be regularly monitored and moderated.

  • If content was created to be shared by users, explicit directions must be given that the content cannot be shared with anyone under age.

  • All digital marketing efforts should respect user privacy.

It's important to note, these rules apply to the US market and that digital marketing for alcoholic beverages will vary country to country. In the meantime, let's unpack what this means for marketing in the United States.

Age Restrictions

As we previously mentioned, adult beverage companies are restricted to promoting their products on platforms where 71.6% of the market is over the age of 21. At least 67% of Americans using social media on a daily basis is 12-years of age or older. That in itself suppresses some of the options available and forces beverage companies to thoroughly research each social platform before creating a digital profile. A higher percentage of Instagram users are 17-years old or younger, but the application recently surpassed the required 71.6%. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter carry more than 80% of audiences that are 21-years or older.

Age Affirmation

Age affirmation makes it possible for adult beverage companies to engage with their social audience. Even if you might be approved to post regular updates, connecting with your customers is a little more challenging. That's where age affirmation programs make it possible to bridge the gap. Each platform will have a mandated structure for confirming age, but you'll want to adhere to these rules to allow you to make meaningful connections with your target audience. Twitter uses an age-screening feature that requires the date of birth to be entered before they are allowed to follow an alcohol brand. Facebook's verification goes a little deeper and will match the age of the user to other places where they might be registered as being over the legal drinking age.

Social Monitoring

Most brands view social monitoring as a bonus. Engaging with their audience provides valuable insight into the attitude of how the target audience sees their brand. For adult beverage companies this isn't a luxury but a requirement. The guidelines require all adult beverage brands intently control any user-generated content to ensure that it promotes only responsible drinking and is not inappropriate drinking. If comments are left that do not comply with these rules, the brands are encouraged to take it down. Check comments every five days. You can't remove tweets that weren't posted by yourself or your team, but you do have the option on Facebook, Instagram, and your blog.

User Privacy

Personal information is sometimes collected from your followers. Privacy policies exist as a way to communicate exactly how you intend to use this information. These types of contacts have been around for years, and your followers will be used to seeing them. If you read one yourself, you will notice that it is chock-full of legal jargon. The most important message to get across to your users is that confirmation is required to prove they are of legal drinking age and that information is only collected from those who are 21 and up. You must also articulate that you as a brand will provide an option for the user to opt-in to communication and that none of their information will be sold to third parties. Encourage your readers to read the privacy policy and take extra measures to ensure that their data is secure.

Digital Marketing Success

It can sound daunting to work against all of these rules, but it's possible to form a solid, engaged online community. Here are just a couple of examples.


There are no laws in place that say you can't have someone consume a beer while on camera. However, the rules of showing someone drinking are conservative and should in no way express that they are drinking to excess, on a dare, rapidly, involuntarily, or as part of a game. Because of these limitations, most brands adhere to the Television Code. Heineken, a Dutch brewing company, decided to utilize actor Neil Patrick Harris to deliver a subversive message about the inability to drink on camera that was an almost satirical response to the rules set forth. The results were on brand and well-informed. And, the video performed well. You can watch the video here.

Whitehall Lane

Creating a strong core audience is achieved in many ways. A conventional digital marketing tactic is organizing a contest or giveaway where users will win a product or service. While alcohol can't be the reward, Whitehall Lane, a winery, makes creative side-steps. Instead of giving away their own products, they team up with relative brands to giveaway cookbooks or wine glasses. They also support loyalty by sharing user-generated content on their social platforms. Careful always to choose posts that meet the rules and regulations.

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Marketing Adult Beverage Brands

Marketing your adult beverage is critical to success. Whether you sell on a national or global scale, the Brindiamo Group here is to help. Our team of professionals can guide you on best practices and regulations surrounding your marketing efforts.

Horton Admin