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Students’ perceptions of barriers to moderate drinking: A comparison between a wet and a dry drinking culture

Khai Trieu Tran (Department of Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand and Faculty of Marketing, University of Economics – The University of Danang, Danang, Vietnam)
Kirsten Robertson (Department of Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Maree Thyne (Department of Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)

Journal of Social Marketing

ISSN: 2042-6763

Article publication date: 13 June 2019

Issue publication date: 14 January 2020




This study aims to explore the barriers that prevent students from moderating their drinking by comparing attitudes towards moderation in a wet (New Zealand) and dry (Vietnam) drinking culture and examines whether these barriers can be understood by applying an ecological framework.


A qualitative survey involving a written vignette was conducted with a sample of 226 and 277 undergraduates from New Zealand and Vietnam, respectively. Data were analysed using qualitative content analysis.


The analysis reveals that students perceive several barriers to moderate drinking at the intrapersonal level (e.g. positive attitude towards drinking), interpersonal level (e.g. peer pressure) and environmental level (e.g. socialising activities), suggesting that an ecological framework is useful for understanding drinking cultures. The response variations between the two countries provide novel insights into cultural differences in students’ perceptions, with external factors being more important and influential in the wet culture and internal influences being of more concern in the dry culture.

Practical implications

The findings highlight that students in the wet drinking culture do not take personal responsibility for their drinking and suggest that social marketing should move beyond individualistic approaches and towards the disruption of drinking cultures/practices, in pursuit of a healthier drinking culture.


This study provides novel insights into the barriers and facilitators of moderating drinking. Further, the findings demonstrate the value of a holistic ecological framework for understanding student drinking cultures. The comparison between two diverse cultures revealed how insights from one culture can help to understand deep-seated practices and meanings in another.



Tran, K.T., Robertson, K. and Thyne, M. (2020), "Students’ perceptions of barriers to moderate drinking: A comparison between a wet and a dry drinking culture", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 105-124.



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