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Effects of Communities, Neighborhoods and Stores on Retail Pricing and Promotion of Beer

Harwood  EM, Erickson DJ, Fabian LE, Jones-Webb R, Slater SJ and Chaloupka FJ. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 64(5): 720-726, 2003.

Objective: This study examines how communities, neighborhoods and stores influence retail pricing and promotion of beer.

Method: In the year 2000, trained field staff conducted observations in 2,024 retail alcohol stores in 160 communities throughout the contiguous United States. Based on a nationally representative sample of schools, we selected communities defined by the school’s catchment area, or the vicinity from which the majority of students are drawn. We randomly selected off-sale alcohol retail establishments from a complete list of stores likely to sell tobacco or alcohol in the selected communities. Beer price and promotions are based on observations of Miller and Budweiser beer brands in the stores. Neighborhoods are defined by the store’s census block. We used cross-sectional, hierarchical regression models and mixed methods procedures to analyze data.

Results: Community, neighborhood and store characteristics were related to beer price; however, only community and store characteristics were predictive of beer promotions.

Conclusions: Overall, the pricing and promotion of beer vary systematically by some characteristics of communities, neighborhoods and stores, but not significantly by the number of young people populating a neighborhood. In addition, pricing and promotion of Budweiser and Miller beers, in particular, do not appear to target racial minority populations. Because of the significant effect of store characteristics, public health agencies and advocates might focus prevention efforts on collaborations with liquor control agencies to reduce variations in pricing and promotion of beer, which ultimately encourage risky drinking behaviors. Further studies are needed to examine the effects of pricing and promotion on alcohol-related social problems.

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