Digital alcohol marketing and gender: a narrative synthesis

Antonia C. Lyons*, Kate Kersey, Carol Emslie, Elena Dimova, Annamae Burrows

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Alcohol marketing on social media platforms is pervasive and effective, reaching wide audiences and allowing interaction with users. We know little about the gendered nature of digital alcohol marketing, including how women and men are portrayed, how different genders respond, and implications for gender relations. This review aimed to identify how males, females and other genders are targeted and represented in digital alcohol marketing, and how they are encouraged to engage with digital alcohol marketing content. 

Methods: A narrative synthesis approach was employed. Academic literature and research reports were searched for studies on digital alcohol marketing published within the previous 10 years with a range of methods and designs. We reviewed the studies, extracted data relevant to gender, and synthesised findings thematically. 

Results: The review included 17 articles and seven reports with a range of designs and methods, including content analyses of digital material, interviews, focus groups, and surveys. Our analysis identified three conceptual themes that captured many of the gendered results, namely 1) leveraging a diversity of idealised femininities; 2) amplifying hegemonic masculinity; and 3) infiltrating everyday gendered life. 

Conclusion: Alcohol marketing on social media is highly gendered and is designed to embed itself into everyday life in agile ways that reinforce traditional and evolving gendered stereotypes, activities, lifestyles, and roles. Gendered engagement strategies are widely used to link alcohol to everyday gendered activities and identities to encourage alcohol purchase and consumption. This marketing normalises alcohol consumption and reproduces harmful gender norms and stereotypes. 

Original languageEnglish
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Early online date22 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Apr 2024


  • alcohol marketing
  • drinking
  • gender
  • public health
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)


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