Page last updated:Aug 2021

Alcohol product labels and their affect on wine consumption


A previous research study concluded that wine and beer labelled as lower in strength are associated with an increased consumption compared with the same drinks labelled as regular strength. The label included both a verbal and numerical descriptor of strength. A new study aimed to estimate the effect of each of these label components.

Research was conducted in a university bar laboratory in London, UK and 147 weekly wine drinkers were sampled from a nationally representative English panel. Participants were randomised to one of three groups to taste test wine in a bar-laboratory, varying only in the label displayed: (i) verbal descriptor only (Super Low); (ii) numerical descriptor only (4% alcohol by volume (ABV)); and (iii) verbal descriptor and numerical descriptor combined (Super Low 4%ABV). Each group had 49 participants. Those randomised to the numerical descriptor label group (and combined verbal and numerical descriptor label group drank significantly greater amounts than those randomised to the verbal descriptor label group.

The researchers state that this bar laboratory study suggests that a greater quantity of ‘lower’ strength wine was consumed when the label included a numerical strength descriptor compared with a verbal only strength descriptor.

Source Vasiljevic M, Frings D, Pilling M, Marteau TM. Do alcohol product labels stating lower strength verbal description, percentage alcohol-by-volume, or their combination affect wine consumption? A bar laboratory adaptive randomised controlled trial. Addiction. 2021 Sep;116(9):2339-2347.


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