Discover how we developed a social marketing programme to reduce both the supply and demand for alcohol amongst young teenagers in Hastings.

The Problem

The increase in alcohol consumption amongst young people under 18 years of age, and the harm related to it, have become significant concerns in the UK. Research carried out by East Sussex Public Health in 2015, showed that 70% of 15-year-olds in East Sussex had drunk alcohol, signficantly higher than the England average of 62%. The research also showed that 20% of 15-year-olds in East Sussex had been drunk in the last four years, compared to the England average of 14%.

What We Did


We carried out detailed, face-to-face research with 11-15 year olds who drink and discovered that parents are a major source of their alcohol. Further research with parents revealed that they we unaware that there was a problem with giving under 18 year-olds alcohol as they believed it was the social norm to do this and by controlling supply they thought they were helping their children. Parents were also unaware that alcohol can have a detrimental effect on their chidren's brain development and were shocked to learn this. 


Our research demonstrated that a single set of interventions would not tackle this challenge as there are many different motivations that encourage this age group to drink alcohol. As a result, we segmented the young people into a number of groups and identified two segments for targetting: Habituals - who regularly drink regularly because of peer pressure and Blockers - who drink alcohol to blot out problems and challenges in their lives. Both segments required different approaches.

Intervention Mix

To address the Habituals segment, we worked in partnership with the local Community Alcohol Partnership and secondary school to include the risks of alcohol in PSHE lessons. We also targetted parents with a radio campaign, supported by posters and a dedicated website advice. This campaign ran with the slogan: Your child and alcohol. Think Again Now. For the Blockers we worked with a local youth support service: i-Rock to encourage higher levels of self-referrals by developing new branding and publicty materials. 

What We Achieved

The project, which is on-going, resulted in around 1.500 parents with teenage children being reached with the Think Again Now message in Hastings. The campaign also reduced the number of parents stating that they give their children alcohol, while awareness of the damage that alcohol can cause to the developing brain increased within the campaign area. 

i-Rock improved their oveall branding and the redesigned publicity materials were distributed widely to young people through local schools and youth clubs. At present, it is not possible to say if these materials have improved footfall to the i-Rock service. 

Due to the success of the Think Again Now campaign, a follow-up campaign was launched in Hastings in early 2018, using bus shelter and on-bus advertising sites.