Distillers Adopt 73.8% 21+ Demographic Placement Standard

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) and American Distilled Spirits Alliance (ADSA), national trade associations representing the distilled spirits industry, today increased the adult demographic placement standard in their respective advertising and marketing codes to reflect the 2020 U.S. Census data, officially released this morning, showing that 73.8 percent of the U.S. population is 21 years of age and older.

“The census is the most comprehensive survey of the current demographics of the U.S. population and provides a sound, fact-based measure for spirits companies to make advertising placement decisions,” said DISCUS President and CEO Chris Swonger. “In keeping with our longstanding commitment to responsible advertising, this new demographic percentage will apply prospectively to all new purchases of advertising and marketing for distilled spirits products.”

Under the new demographic guideline, spirits advertising and marketing should be placed in media only where at least 73.8 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be above the legal purchase age (21+). The previous demographic standard was 71.6 percent 21+ which was grounded in the 2010 Census data.

Margie A.S. Lehrman, CEO of ACSA, stated, “As spirits producers, we have long prioritized the importance of responsible marketing practices, and rely heavily on U.S. Census data to ensure we are marketing exclusively to an adult audience. This new data will ensure we continue to do just that.”

Jodie Bernstein, former Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and Outside Advisor to the DISCUS Code Review Board, stated, “Industry members voluntarily adhere to a rigorous set of standards against which they are regularly measured. A census-based demographic standard reflecting the percentage of the population aged 21 years and older has long been supported by the Federal Trade Commission. The industry Codes are living documents that are frequently reviewed and revised to stay current with modern society and technology as demonstrated by the decision to update their demographic standards based on the new Census data.”

A census-based demographic standard reflecting the percentage of the population age 21 years was included as a key recommendation in the FTC’s 2008 Report on “Self-Regulation in the Alcohol Industry,” and the FTC commended the industry adoption of this standard in their 2014 Report.