Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business (Research)


Management and Marketing

First Advisor

Mr. Maurice Murphy


Ireland has one of the highest levels of alcohol consumption in the EU, consuming 10.6 litres of pure alcohol per person in 2003, increasing to 13.4 litres in 2006. This rise in consumption has led to increases in alcohol-related harm and disease, and has resulted in more than 1,775 deaths according to the Health Research Board (Mongan et al., 2007). In general, increases in overall consumption are accompanied by a greater incidence of health and social problems. In addition to the high volume of alcohol consumed by people in Ireland, drinking occasions appear to be strongly related to heavy episodic or “binge” drinking patterns. Binge drinking is defined as drinking five or more drinks in a row for men and four or more drinks in a row for women, at least once in the previous two weeks.

A recent international study of drinking among university students in 21 countries found that Ireland has the highest proportion of both male and female heavy and binge drinkers (Dantzer et al., 2006). In the study, 49% of Irish third level males and 57% of Irish third level females were classified as heavy drinkers. Women metabolise alcohol differently from men and have higher blood alcohol concentrations for a given volume of alcohol consumed. Therefore, the risks associated with alcohol are amplified for women. With regard to overall health effects, it is important to note that women are at increased risk from alcohol use because they need less alcohol per kilogram of body weight than men, to attain the same peak blood alcohol level and level of impairment.

The current author’s research is of an investigative nature and sets out to analyse the application of social marketing in reducing binge drinking among female college students. Through the use of focus groups, the students interviewed assessed various physical and social threat appeals. These focus groups revealed that physical threat appeals are more effective than social threat appeals at ultimately reducing binge drinking among female college students. Appeals focusing on sexual assault and rape proved to be the most effective. In conclusion, it was found that social marketing messages in Ireland need to be more shocking and informative if the levels of binge drinking are ultimately going to be reduced among this target group.

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