Theory of Planned Behaviour and alcohol

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Exposure to alcohol marketing and alcohol consumption

The new opportunities for alcohol brands to appear in an online marketing environment is problematic because there is increased evidence that exposure to alcohol marketing and exposure to media and commercial communications on alcohol increases consumption (Nicholls, 2012; Anderson et al., 2009). Smith and Foxcroft (2009) reviewed seven longitudinal studies that evaluated exposure to advertising or marketing or alcohol portrayals and drinking at baseline, and assessed drinking behaviour at follow up. In total the studies under review followed up more than 13.000 young people aged 10 to 26 years. The researchers found that the reviewed studies suggest there is an association between exposure to alcohol advertising or promotional activity and subsequent alcohol consumption in young people. Similarly, Anderson et al. (2009), systematically reviewed 13 longitudinal studies that assessed individuals’ exposure to various commercial communications and alcohol drinking behaviour at baseline, and assessed alcohol drinking behaviour at follow-up. In total, the 13 selected longitudinal studies followed up a total of over 38.000 young people. Based on the consistency of the findings from the longitudinal studies, the researchers conclude that exposure to media and commercial communications on alcohol increases the likelihood that adolescents will start to use alcohol, and to drink more if they are already using alcohol (Anderson et al., 2009).

Theory of Planned Behaviour and alcohol

Several studies have utilized Fishbein and Ajzen’s theory to explain intentions and behaviour related to alcohol (Fishbein & Ajzen, 2011). For instance, Cooke, Dahdah, Norman and French (2016) have, by systematically doing meta-analysis of 40 eligible studies, quantified correlations between TPB variables and a) intentions to consume alcohol and b) alcohol consumption. Their systematic review provides support for the utility of the TPB applied to alcohol consumption and intention, as they found that attitudes, subjective norms and self-efficacy had “large-sized relationships” with intentions which, in turn, had a large sized relationship with behaviour (Cooke et al., 2016). Though the majority of the studies under review reported data from adult samples (identified adolescent samples from the studies were limited to five), the age of participants did not moderate subjective norm-intention relations (Cooke et al., 2016). A majority of the studies under review collected data from female and male participants, but only seven of the 40 samples reviewed had approximately equal numbers of male and female participants, or more males than females in their samples. Most samples thus had a majority of female participants, which is to be expected as studies that apply TPB to predict alcohol consumption typically recruit majority female samples (Cooke et al., 2016). However, gender of participants did not moderate the subjective norm-intention relationship either (Cooke et al., 2016).

Research philosophy

Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2016) suggest there are four major philosophies in research – positivism, realism, postmodernism and pragmatism. Malhotra and Birks (2007) suggest that positivism and interpretivism are the two philosophies most used in marketing research. Positivism seeks to generalize data in a scientific manner through hypothesis testing where large samples are studied or to establish causal laws that enable prediction and explanation of marketing phenomena (Malhotra & Birks, 2007; Saunders et al., 2016). The studies are quantitative and have a formal approach towards the participants in order to avoid them influencing the findings (Saunders et al. 2016). These fundamentals of the positivist philosophy were all perceived to be limiting, unsuitable for the objective at hand, and would not allow the researchers to interact with the participants used in the data collection methods as freely as the researchers wished. Neither was the positivist approach considered to support an evolving research design where understanding and insight was key, as the philosophy sees reality as objective and singular, the researcher language is formal and impersonal and has a static research design (Malhotra & Birks, 2007).

Research design

Research designs can broadly be categorized as either conclusive or exploratory (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). Conclusive research design is characterised by measuring a clearly defined marketing phenomena or to test hypotheses. The research process in conclusive research is formal and structured, samples are large, and aims to be representative. Such characteristics were not perceived to be suitable for this study, as the study did not have the objective of presenting data that would be generalizable for a larger population, nor did it have an objective of testing specific hypothesis. A formal and structured process was perceived to potentially put limits on the collection and analysis of data that would be collected. Contrastingly, exploratory research is a more flexible and evolving approach to understand marketing phenomena that are inherently difficult to measure (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). The objective of exploratory research is mainly to provide understanding and insight of marketing phenomena and used when the subject of a study cannot be measured quantitatively (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). It can be used to identify relevant or salient behaviour patterns, beliefs, opinions, attitudes, motivations (Malhotra & Birks, 2007), which meant it was rather suitable for the purpose at hand, as it served to help the researchers to explore if and how the presence of alcoholic beverages on Swedish lifestyle blogs may affect young females’ intention to pursue alcohol consumption.

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Considerations on interviews as data collection method

As alcohol is considered to be a sensitive topic, there were some important aspects that had to be respected. For instance, the researchers had to guarantee an absolute anonymity and not to disclose information about the respondent that was personal or private. In each interview session, the researcher informed the participant about the format of the interview and the respondent’s rights to interrupt the interview or to skip questions that were perceived as sensitive. Another aspect was to not judge the respondents’ answers as good or bad, or disrupt the interview session with personal opinions and beliefs. The researchers thus never used a judgemental tone during the interview sessions, and never shared their own personal beliefs about the topic. All focus was on the respondent during the entire session.

Table of Contents :

  • 1. Introduction
    • Background
    • Problem definition
    • Purpose and research questions
    • Contribution
  • 2. Frame of Reference
    • Presence of alcohol in the digital landscape
    • Exposure of alcohol online by alcohol companies
      • How alcohol companies are using social media channels
    • Exposure of alcohol online by users
      • Consequences of exposing alcohol online by users
      • Alcohol in Swedish lifestyle blogs
    • Exposure to alcohol marketing and alcohol consumption
    • The Reasoned Action Approach
    • Theory of Planned Behaviour and alcohol
    • The normative component
      • Understanding how bloggers may influence the descriptive norm
    • Criticism towards the Reasoned Action Approach
  • 3. Methodology
    • Research philosophy
    • Research approach
    • Research design
  • 4. Method
    • Collection of data
    • Web content analysis on blogs
    • Interviews
      • Different forms of interviews
      • Considerations on interviews as data collection method
    • Sampling of blogs and interview respondents
    • Sampling of blogs
    • Sampling of interview respondents
    • Designing and analysing the data collection
    • Web content analysis design and analysis
    • Interview design and analysis
  • 5. Results
    • General findings – Web content analysis
    • Number of posts related to alcohol
    • Sponsored posts
      • Carolina Gynning
      • Isabella Löwengrip
      • Sandra Beijer
      • Michaela Forni
    • Type of alcohol
    • Brand mentioned/visible
    • Emotional context (positive, negative or neutral)
    • General findings – Interviews
  • 6. Analysis
    • Analysis of web content analysis
    • Number of alcohol posts
    • How alcohol is portrayed in blogs
    • Analysis of interview findings
    • Recognition of alcohol content in blog posts
    • Respondents claiming influence
    • Respondents claiming no or little influence
      • Attitude Towards Behaviour (ATB)
      • Perceived Behavioural Control (PBC)
    • Attempting to quantify components
  • 7. Conclusion
  • 8. Discussion
    • Societal implications
    • Future research
  • 9. References
    • Appendices

The Presence of Alcohol in Swedish Lifestyle Blogs An exploratory study on if and how the presence of alcoholic beverages on Swedish blogs may affect young females’ intention to pursue alcohol consumption

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