The Way We Drink : the Current Attitudes and Behaviours of New Zealanders (aged 12 plus) Towards Drinking Alcohol

Reports findings of a survey of New Zealanders aged 12 years or more, identifying their motivating and inhibiting behaviours around the consumption of alcohol.

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Commissioning agencies
Date of last publication
Mar 2004
Organisation conducting the research
BRC Marketing & Social Research

Purpose

The below reports present the results of a survey of New Zealanders, 12 years of age and more. Commissioned by the Alcohol Advisory Council, it was specifically undertaken in order to identify and segment the current attitudes (motivators and inhibitors) and behaviours of New Zealanders towards the consumption of alcohol.

Methodology

This survey was completed between 4 June and 6 September 2003, with two specific population groups:

  1. A nationally representative sample of n=626 young people, aged between 12 and 17. Results based on this total sample of young people are subject to a maximum margin of error of ±5.1% (at the 95% confidence level).
  2. A nationally representative sample of n=1,157 adults aged 18+. Results based on the total sample of adults are subject to a maximum margin of error of ±4.5% (at the 95% confidence level).

Young people were defined as being between the ages of 12 and 17. This was chosen on the basis that the minimum legal age for purchasing alcohol or being on licensed premises without parental supervision is 18 years. Twelve (12) was selected as the lower end of the range on the basis that earlier work had suggested that the very young were, in some cases, also regularly consuming alcohol.

Respondents were evenly distributed across three key ethnic groups – Māori, Pacific and all "other" ethnic groups (mostly Pakeha European). This deliberate over-sampling of Māori and Pacific people was undertaken in order to ensure a sufficient number of Māori and Pacific people were interviewed to allow for their results to be examined with a reasonable degree of confidence. Results have been weighted back by ethnicity, as well as age and gender, to 2001 Census benchmarks.

The development of the survey questionnaire was informed as a result of a comprehensive search of the literature and an in-depth qualitative research stage of research. The questionnaire and associated methodological approach were also subjected to a thorough piloting or pre-testing phase.

All interviewing was completed by telephone, from BRC’s CATI-enabled call centre. Telephone interviewing was selected as the most cost-effective approach, based on our experience with ALAC’s Youth Drinking Monitor that has now been conducted successfully for over five years. Once randomly selected, up to eight attempts were made to contact and interview a given respondent, before they were substituted with another respondent.

The final response rate for young people was 46%, and for adults 30%. Our calculation method is an internationally recognised standard, approved by the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers.

Most of the non-response can be accounted for in terms of respondents who did not qualify for an interview on the basis of not meeting selection criteria (i.e. age, gender and ethnicity subgroups we were required to represent), as opposed to outright refusal.

Finally, we have examined the results for both young people and adults with similar surveys conducted in New Zealand, and are confident that both the survey is a consistent and accurate reflection of New Zealand’s current attitudes and behaviours with respect to alcohol.

Key Results

The current drinking culture is one that is characterised by the following survey findings:

o New Zealand is a society in which many people are tolerant of drunkenness.

Not quite half of all people 12+ (46%) agree with the statement, It’s never OK to get drunk (conversely, 49% of all people 12+ disagree with this statement).

Over two-fifths of all people 12+ (41%) agree with the statement, It’s OK to get drunk as long as it’s not every day.

Almost one-in-ten current drinkers 12+ (9%) admit they, Drink to get drunk.

o As a result, it is a society in which many current drinkers appear to exercise little self-control.

One-quarter of all current drinkers 12+ (26%) disagree with the statement, I try not to drink so much I forget what I was doing or what happened.

Almost one-quarter of all current drinkers 12+ (24%) disagree with the statement, I limit the amount of alcohol I drink so that I don’t wake up with a hangover.

o Also a society in which many adults who currently drink don’t appear to be concerned about their physical or mental well-being because of their drinking.

Over one-third of all current drinkers 18+ (38%) disagree with the statement, I am concerned about the long-term effects of alcohol on my physical well-being.

Over two-fifths of all current drinkers 18+ (42%) disagree with the statement, I am concerned about the long-term effects of alcohol on my mental well-being.

o And a society in which many parents don’t know about their children’s drinking with respect to alcohol.

Although two-thirds of parents (63%) report they set strict rules about (their) children drinking alcohol, 21% admit that they do not. However, only one-half (52%) agree they know when their children drink.

o However, New Zealand is also a society in which the ‘benefits’ of alcohol as a‘social lubricant’ and ‘relaxant’ are recognised.

Over two-fifths of all current drinkers 12+ (42%) agree with the statement, When I drink alcohol it is easier to meet and get to know people.

Two-thirds of all current drinkers 12+ (67%) agree with the statement, Alcohol helps me wind down and relax.

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