Liquor Stores On Every Corner: Disproportionate Alcohol Ads in Low Income Communities

Is drinking a part of black culture? Something African American’s are exposed and accustomed to on a regular basis? A recent episode of the A&E series Intervention featured an African American alcoholic who proclaimed that her drinking was “a cultural thing.” We began thinking thinking about alcohol, the African American community and advertising. Let’s look at a few facts first:

  • Alcohol advertisements are disproportionally displayed in lower-income African American communities.
  • African Americans consume more malt liquor than any other group; portrayed as a sign of masculinity, malt liquor is the most highly advertised alcohol type among the black community, and rap artists are often used in malt liquor advertising.
  • Alcohol advertising reaches more African American youth than any other demographic.

While drinking isn’t a built-in, assumed component of African American culture, you cannot ignore the facts that low-income neighborhoods are exposed to a disproportionate amount of  alcohol billboards and signage, usually showcasing malt liquor, and alcohol ads, especially “AlcoPops,” fruit flavored malt beverages, run heavily on black-owned television networks and during popular African American youth programs.

No matter the product, if you tout it to the public heavily enough, saturate communities with advertising, and focus on the Millenial demographic, you’re bound to outsell the competition. But at what price?


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