Perceptions of alcohol-consumption motives amongst Generation Y students
Excessive alcohol consumption has been a global issue for decades, especially amongst the Generation Y consumers. These consumers, specifically the Generation Y consumers who are attending higher education institutions with the aim of obtaining tertiary degrees, are the future pioneers of this country. Since these consumers are also those most affected by the negative consequences of excessive alcohol use, including academic failure, demarketing strategies are necessary to target this group. In doing so, a prosperous future for both these individuals and the country is possible. The published literature on consumer behaviour of the South African Generation Y cohort is limited, specifically with reference to alcohol-consumption motives. Individuals within the Generation Y cohort, pursuing tertiary education, are the future of the economic sector of South Africa, responsible for the country’s sustained growth. This group, therefore, is a very important market segment and it is imperative for marketers to understand their alcohol consumption behaviour, as well as their attitudes thereof in order to develop effective demarketing strategies. Without effective demarketing efforts aimed at reducing alcohol consumption among this group, both hazardous and harmful levels of consumption will continue to rise. With the economic costs associated with harmful alcohol use in South Africa already estimated to be between R245 933 to R280 687 billion, this figure will only continue to grow. As such, the primary objective of this study was to determine Generation Y university students’ perceptions of alcohol-consumption motives and consequent attitudes toward such consumption behaviour within the South African context. It is believed that students not only consume higher levels of alcohol based on their perception of other students’ drinking behaviour, but that motivation alters perception to facilitate a goal-directed action, or drinking. Therefore, if students’ perceptions of alcohol-consumption motives are uncovered, there is a possibility of attempting to change these motives in order to change attitudes and perceptions that could possibly result in the reduction of alcohol consumption overall. The target population, relevant to this study, was defined as full-time undergraduate Generation Y students; enrolled at South African registered public higher education institutions (HEIs) and aged between 18 and 24 years. The sampling frame comprised the 26 registered South African public HEIs. A non-probability, judgement sample method was utilised to select one traditional university and one university of technology in the Gauteng province, from the sampling frame. For this study, a convenience sample of 500 Generation Y students was drawn from the sample frame during 2016, where 470 questionnaires were returned and 415 questionnaires deemed viable. To conduct this study, a structured format was applied where lecturers of the applicable classes were contacted and permission was requested to carry out the survey. Thereafter, hand-delivered self-administered questionnaires were distributed for completion during the scheduled class times of the full-time undergraduate students, which were collected thereafter. The questionnaire requested participants to indicate on a six-point Likert scale the extent to their agreement/disagreement with items designed to measure their attitudes towards alcohol consumption and their perceptions of various alcohol-consumption motives, namely social-, coping-, enhancement- and conformity motives. The collected data were analysed using confirmatory factor analysis, reliability and validity analysis, descriptive statistics analysis, one sample t-test, correlation analysis and regression analysis. The findings of this study indicate that South African Generation Y students have statistically significant positive attitudes toward alcohol consumption as well as statistically significant positive social motives, coping motives, enhancement motives as well as conformity motives to consume alcohol. South African Generation Y students’ perception of social-, enhancement- and conformity motives to consume alcohol influences their attitudes toward alcohol consumption, unlike their perception of coping motives, which does not. Insights gained from this study will be relevant to marketing practitioners in understanding the perceptions of various motives determining Generation Y students’ attitudes towards alcohol consumption in order to develop appropriate demarketing strategies to target this segment affectively.