Category Archives: consumer behavior

Video Friday – Benefits and Risks of Alcoholic Drinks

Like almost everyone who enjoys beer, wine, and mixed drinks, I have been interested in the research showing links between moderate alcohol consumption and cardiovascular health. In discussions with others, I’ve often heard, “now that’s the kind of scientific research we need more of” and so forth.

But obviously, booze is a two-edge sword.

So this research by Dr. James O’Keefe, a cardiologist from Mid America Heart Institute, with his co-authors Dr. Salman K. Bhatti, Dr. Ata Bajwa, James J. DiNicolantonio, Doctor of Pharmacy, and Dr. Carl J. Lavie caught my eye, because its comprehensive review of the literature on both benefits and risks.

It was published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, and here Dr. O’Keefe summarizing the findings.

The Abstract for this research paper, Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health: The Dose Makes the Poison…or the Remedy, lays it out pretty clearly.

Habitual light to moderate alcohol intake (up to 1 drink per day for women and 1 or 2 drinks per day for men) is associated with decreased risks for total mortality, coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure, and stroke. However, higher levels of alcohol consumption are associated with increased cardiovascular risk. Indeed, behind only smoking and obesity, excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of premature death in the United States. Heavy alcohol use (1) is one of the most common causes of reversible hypertension, (2) accounts for about one-third of all cases of nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy, (3) is a frequent cause of atrial fibrillation, and (4) markedly increases risks of stroke—both ischemic and hemorrhagic. The risk-to-benefit ratio of drinking appears higher in younger individuals, who also have higher rates of excessive or binge drinking and more frequently have adverse consequences of acute intoxication (for example, accidents, violence, and social strife). In fact, among males aged 15 to 59 years, alcohol abuse is the leading risk factor for premature death. Of the various drinking patterns, daily low- to moderate-dose alcohol intake, ideally red wine before or during the evening meal, is associated with the strongest reduction in adverse cardiovascular outcomes. Health care professionals should not recommend alcohol to nondrinkers because of the paucity of randomized outcome data and the potential for problem drinking even among individuals at apparently low risk. The findings in this review were based on a literature search of PubMed for the 15-year period 1997 through 2012 using the search terms alcohol, ethanol, cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, heart failure, hypertension, stroke, and mortality. Studies were considered if they were deemed to be of high quality, objective, and methodologically sound.

Did someone say there is no such thing as a free lunch? Note, “among males aged 15 to 59 years, alcohol abuse is the leading risk factor for premature death.”

There is some moral here, possibly related to the size of the US booze industry, an estimated $331 billions in 2011 about equally distributed between beer and for the other part wine and hard liquor.

Also I wonder with the growing legal acceptance of marijuana at the state level in the US, whether negative health impacts would be mitigated by substitution of weed for drinking. Of course, combination of both is a possibility, leading to drug-crazed drunks?

Maybe the more important issue is to bring people’s unquestionable desire for mind-altering substances into focus, to understand this urge, and be able to develop cultural contexts in which moderate usage can take place.

Will Online Retail Cannibalize Brick-and-mortar Sales?

Online retail or ecommerce is growing at three times the rate of retails sales generally (15 percent compared with 5 percent). And within online sales, mobile ecommerce is rocketing ahead by growth rates on the order of 25 percent per year in the US. Are these faster growing elements complementary to or cannibalizing conventional retail sales?

First, some stores – such as Blockbuster, Movie Gallery, Borders, and stores selling records and CD’s – are clearly casualties of Internet competition.

Other brick-and-mortar operations are following a multi-channel strategy, opening up online sales divisions parallel and in addition to their stores with goods on the shelves.

But the handwriting may be on the wall.

For one thing, in the 2013 holiday season, U.S. retailers saw approximately half the holiday foot traffic they experienced just three years ago.

And some of the foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores is “showrooming” with practices highlighted in this infographic from Adweek (click to enlarge).


And it’s significant a pure-play ecommerce provider like Amazon has risen to one of the ten largest retailers in the United States, with 2013 sales of $44 billion.

While Amazon is still back in the pack (see Table below), its annual growth rate is unsurpassed.


Bottom line – the “fulfillment center” may become a growing trend.

People like to see the product, especially if it is a larger ticket item.

Interestingly, Amazon is now opening fulfillment centers in key urban markets. Other formerly brick-and-mortar stores may repurpose some of their floor area to warehousing and fulfillment of customer orders.

Recognize, however, that we’re talking about $3-4 trillion in retail sales in the US, and the game on the ground is likely to change relatively slowly – over five or ten years.