More Quebecers are sticking to the recommended limits and Éduc’alcool’s credibility is at an all-time high

There is good news in the 5th survey of the relationship between Quebecers and alcohol, conducted by CROP for Éduc’alcool: More people are following the low-risk drinking guidelines, moderation remains a top value, and Éduc’alcool’s credibility has climbed even higher than it was before.

While there is still much more progress to be made, and not all problems are solved as if by magic, we cannot help but be pleased by the fact that a greater percentage of drinkers are sticking to the recommended limits. And the work we have put into keeping people properly informed and listening to their concerns during the pandemic has pushed Éduc’alcool’s credibility to a level never before seen. Such status as a benchmark organization comes with additional responsibilities.

The message Éduc’alcool has been hammering home for years is reaching more people than ever.

  • A greater percentage of Quebecers are sticking to the recommended drinking limits: fewer drinkers exceeded the recommended limits in 2021 than in 2017.
  • Quebecers are having an average of 2.3 drinks per occasion and 4.5 drinks per week.
  • While the overall percentage of drinkers among the population remains stable at 84%, drinking frequency has declined slightly.
  • People are becoming increasingly aware of the risks to the fetus and the consequences of drinking during pregnancy.
  • More Quebecers now know that there is the same amount of alcohol in one beer (12 oz), one glass of wine (5 oz) and one shot of spirits (1½ oz).
  • Éduc’alcool’s credibility continues to climb, even though it was already very high. With 95% of those surveyed finding the organization credible, and 55% of them rating it “very credible,” Éduc’alcool is now the benchmark organization when it comes to drinking.
  • For the first time, Éduc’alcool was the first organization named when people were asked who sponsors messages about moderate drinking.
  • Recognition of the Éduc’alcool slogan La modération a bien meilleur goût remains very high— over 90% among French-speakers—but the slogan Moderation is always in good taste is less well-known among English-speakers, with only one in two recognizing it.
  • Interest in information about drinking remains high, in particular regarding alcohol and health, and alcohol and driving.

A caveat is in order, however, since the 2021 survey took place under very particular circumstances, and therefore the results cannot be accurately compared to those of previous surveys.

The pandemic has affected the way Quebecers drink. While we do not know whether the changes will persist over time, the following is true now:

  • Because of health measures and government restrictions, drinking outside the home is down, as is driving after drinking (within the legal limit or not), and the frequency with which people encounter police sobriety checkpoints.
  • Some Quebecers say they have increased their alcohol intake, particularly because of COVID-related boredom or stress, while others say their drinking has decreased because of reduced social interaction.

The current situation, in which extremes have become the norm, exerts very strong social pressure on people to behave ‘correctly’: polarized opinions and conflicting values can cause some people to give a response that they believe is more acceptable, rather than expressing what they really think. Thus:

  • There has been an increase in the percentage of Quebecers who believe that drinking alcohol, even in moderate amounts, is harmful to one’s health.
  • More people believe that regularly drinking one or two alcoholic beverages a day makes a person alcoholic.

We also note a change in media consumption. Netflix viewing has been rising significantly for several years now, to the detriment of mass media and the Web, which is where Éduc’alcool promotes its message, seeking to reach a greater audience.

The lockdown has also greatly affected people’s other media habits. For example, listening to the radio when you’re alone in your car commuting to and from work cannot compare to listening to the radio at home, where attention is divided among various stimuli. Given that the Éduc’alcool slogan is communicated mainly via radio in the anglophone market, this change in media habits could explain the slight drop in recognition in that market.

In recent months, CROP has observed that Quebecers have tended to turn inward and be interested primarily in how to get through the pandemic. Therefore, it is quite possible that they have paid less attention to messages from organizations with which they have no direct relationship, and more attention to those responding to their immediate concerns.

The survey results are thus excellent news for Éduc’alcool, whose ongoing and rigorous alcohol-related activities throughout the pandemic explain the increase in the organization’s credibility (already stratospheric at 95%). A full 55% of Quebecers now rate Éduc’alcool as very credible.