Targeted Advertising & Alcoholism In Young Black Women

In recent years, there has been an alarming rise in binge drinking and alcoholism among young black women in South Africa. This has become such a grave concern that many are now pointing to targeted advertising as the underlying cause. Young black women have become the target of alcohol companies’ campaigns, which is leading to an increase in alcohol consumption among this demographic. In this blog post, we will delve into what this trend looks like and how it can be better addressed. We’ll discuss how alcohol companies target young black women, the dangers of excessive drinking in this population, and what can be done to combat the problem.

The History of Targeted Advertising

The history of targeted advertising is long and complicated, but it ultimately boils down to one thing: using data to sell products.

Targeted advertising began in the early days of mass media, when advertisers realized they could use demographic information to target their ads more effectively. This led to the development of sophisticated marketing research techniques, which allowed advertisers to segment consumers based on factors like age, income, and geographic location.

With the advent of digital technology, targeted advertising has become even more sophisticated. Advertisers can now use data from online activity—including search engine queries, social media interactions, and website visits—to target ads with laser-like precision.

Critics argue that targeted advertising is a form of psychological manipulation that exploits our vulnerabilities and intrudes on our privacy. Others argue that it’s simply a more efficient way of delivering ads and that we should be free to ignore them if we choose.

Whatever your opinion on targeted advertising, there’s no denying that it’s here to stay. As we increasingly live our lives online, companies will only become more skilled at using our data to sell us stuff.

The Impact of Targeted Advertising on Black Women

There is a lot of discussion about the impact of targeted advertising on Black women, with many people believing that it plays a role in contributing to higher rates of alcoholism among young Black women. While there is no definitive answer, some studies suggest that targeted advertising may be a factor.

One study found that Black women who were exposed to more alcohol ads were more likely to start drinking at an earlier age and to drink more heavily than those who were not exposed to as many ads. The study also found that Black women who saw more alcohol ads were more likely to believe that drinking was necessary to have fun and be sociable.

These findings suggest that targeted advertising can have a significant impact on Black women’s attitudes towards alcohol and their drinking behaviour. If you are concerned about the impact of targeted advertising on young Black women, it might be worth limiting your exposure to alcohol ads or speaking with a professional about the issue.

South Africa, like America is a country that encourages consumerism. Young people are constantly bombarded with advertisements that promote a particular lifestyle as having ‘arrived’ This lifestyle include fancy cars, clothes and drinking of ‘sophisticated’ among other material gains.

In an article by Glamour magazine, the ‘ideal’ woman who drinks Bernini

“Style, sparkle and glam is what it’s all about. Bernini compliments the self-assured, ambitious and super driven woman. It’s for the doers, the thinkers, movers. #GlowGetters that are glowing all the way up”.

Unfortunately, this kind of advertising has unintended consequences as it’s been scientifically linked to the increase in alcohol consumption, and in turn the problem of alcoholism in South Africa, particularly in young black women. 

The effects of alcoholism or alcohol use disorder are far reaching. Alcoholism also known as alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence and recently alcohol use disorder has far-reaching direct and indirect consequences. It is estimated that on average, regulated alcohol production contributes R72 billion to the South African economy through taxation, VAT, and excise. In 2019, the alcohol sector accounted for 3.4% (R173 billion) of South Africa’s nominal GDP.  However, the cost of alcohol abuse is not worth the billions it makes.

In a ResearchGate article “The combined total tangible and intangible costs of alcohol harm to the economy were estimated at 10 – 12% of the 2009 gross domestic product (GDP). The tangible financial cost of harmful alcohol use alone was estimated at R37.9 billion, or 1.6% of the 2009 GDP”.

There is the added cost of people’s lived experiences and hardships because of alcolchol abuse which is hard to quantify in capitalist terms. These lived experiences may include:

  • Children born with foetal alcohol syndrome
  • Thousands of lives lost daily as a direct result of road accidents caused by drinking and driving
  • Broken families
  • Irreversible brain damage
  • Poor physical health
  • Mental health problems
  • Loss of jobs and/or businesses
  • Vicious cycle of alcoholism passed down to family members who’re raised by parents or caregivers who drink too much alcohol
  • Risky behaviours due to reduced inhibitions resulting in engaging in behaviours like sexual promiscuity. This may in-turn increase the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases like HIV
  • Fake bravado, engaging in violent behaviours that have real consequences like loss of lives and or serious body injuries.
  • Increase of Domestic violence and Gender-based-violence when under the influence of alcohol.

The Relationship Between Targeted Advertising and Alcoholism in Black Women

There are many factors that contribute to alcoholism in black women. One of the most significant is targeted advertising. Alcohol companies specifically target young black women in their advertising, which can lead to higher rates of alcohol consumption and dependence.

Studies have shown that black women are more likely to be exposed to alcohol ads than any other group. This is especially true for television and social media. The constant exposure can normalize drinking and make it seem like an essential part of life. Black women are also more likely to see ads for hard liquor, which is associated with heavier drinking and more negative health effects.

Targeted advertising isn’t the only factor that contributes to alcoholism in black women, but it’s a significant one. Other reasons young black women drink includes

  • Stress
  • Ease accessibility to alcohol
  • Status and ‘fun’
  • Socially acceptable drug of choice
  • Exposure to alcohol from a young age within families increases the chances of young people drinking from an early age.
  • The complex and violence nature of South Africa’s Apartheid history, often debatable but history cannot be ignored.
  • Broken families and dysfunction
  • Low self-esteem
  • Addictive personality

The Solution to Targeted Advertising

There are a few solutions to the problem of targeted advertising and alcoholism in young black women. The most obvious solution is to stop targeting them with ads for alcohol. This can be done by changing the target demographic of alcohol ads, or by not running any alcohol ads at all.

Another solution is to provide more education on the risks of alcohol abuse, and make sure that this information is easily accessible to young black women. This can be done through public service announcements, educational materials in schools and community centres, and online resources.

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention the Dietary Guidelines recommend that if alcohol is consumed, it should be in moderation—up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age. Other factors to look into include:

  • Addressing the social determinants of health that increase the use of substances including alcohol and drug abuse.
  • Self-awareness and personal responsibility are also key in the reduction of alcohol use disorder.
  • Most young women who struggle with alcoholism tend to be in denial. Initially they are ‘functional alcoholics’ but progressively like any form of addiction with time can deteriorate to a point of exhibiting dysfunctional patterns of behaviour.
  • Consult with your doctor if you begin to engage in behaviours that show signs of alcohol use disorder or if you think that you may have a problem with alcohol.
  • Counselling can be very useful in helping one overcome alcohol addictions.

Finally, it is important to support young black women who are struggling with alcoholism. There are many organizations that offer help and resources for those struggling with addiction, and these should be publicized widely. By offering support and understanding, we can help reduce the stigma around alcoholism and make it easier for young black women to get the help they need. If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, please reach out for help. There are many resources available to you, and you don’t have to go through this alone. There are organisation like SADAG, Lifeline among others that offer free counselling services.


Targeted advertising of alcoholic beverages in communities that are predominantly black South african who are upward mobile is a real and serious issue. This type of marketing practice has been linked to higher rates of alcohol consumption among young black women, leading to an increase in health risks and other social problems. It is important for us to take action and advocate for more responsible marketing practices so we can protect our youth from the dangers associated with alcohol abuse. Only then will we be able to make progress towards reducing alcoholism rates among black South African women while helping them lead healthier lives.