Does Red Bull Give Wings to Vodka? Placebo Effects of Marketing Labels on Perceived Intoxication and Risky Attitudes and Behaviors

Forthcoming, Journal of Consumer Psychology

28 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2017

See all articles by Yann Cornil

Yann Cornil

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Division of Marketing

Pierre Chandon

INSEAD

Aradhna Krishna

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Date Written: March 26, 2017

Abstract

Why sexual assaults and car accidents are associated with the consumption of alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AMED) is still unclear. In a single study, we show that the label used to describe AMED cocktails can have causal non-pharmacological effects on consumers’ perceived intoxication, attitudes, and behaviors. Young men who consumed a cocktail of fruit juice, vodka, and Red Bull felt more intoxicated, took more risks, were more sexually self-confident, but intended to wait longer before driving when the cocktail’s label emphasized the presence of the energy drink (a “Vodka-Red Bull cocktail”) compared to when it did not (a “Vodka” or “Exotic fruits” cocktail). Speaking to the process underlying these placebo effects, we found no moderation of experience but a strong interaction with expectations: These effects were stronger for people who believe that energy drinks boost alcohol intoxication and who believe that intoxication increases impulsiveness, reduces sexual inhibition, and weakens reflexes. These findings have implications for understanding marketing placebo effects and for the pressing debate on the regulation of the marketing of energy drinks.

Keywords: Marketing, Expectations, Placebo Effects, Alcohol, Energy Drink, Public Health, Sensory Marketing

JEL Classification: I12, I18, M31, M37, M39, Q18, L66

Suggested Citation

Cornil, Yann and Chandon, Pierre and Krishna, Aradhna, Does Red Bull Give Wings to Vodka? Placebo Effects of Marketing Labels on Perceived Intoxication and Risky Attitudes and Behaviors (March 26, 2017). Forthcoming, Journal of Consumer Psychology. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2941002 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2941002

Yann Cornil

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Division of Marketing ( email )

Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.yanncornil.com/

Pierre Chandon (Contact Author)

INSEAD ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77305 Fontainebleau Cedex
France

Aradhna Krishna

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

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