Our approach

Our goal is to foster a safe and socially responsible drinking culture in New Zealand and we believe alcohol, when consumed in moderation, can be part of a well-balanced lifestyle. The majority of Kiwis continue to drink alcohol responsibly, and as a nation, we are drinking around 25% less than we did in the 70s and 80s. New Zealand is also seeing a significant drop in underage drinking, with a 16% reduction in the number of 15 to 17-year-olds who drank alcohol in the past year compared with 2006/07. However national alcohol statistics show that alcohol-related harm is still present across a number of population groups and there is more work to do to reduce the negative impacts of alcohol and embed a culture of moderation in New Zealand.

We encourage consumers to drink responsibly through our marketing, sponsorships, partnerships and behaviour change programmes. We also have a robust responsible marketing code that provides clear standards for all of our commercial and marketing communications. We continue to lead the market in producing low-and-no alcohol beers and ciders, providing choice to consumers who choose not to drink alcohol but still enjoy the taste of an alcoholic drink. Joylab, our hospitality partner, also has a strong low-and-no alcohol beverage offering and takes a proactive approach to driving responsible drinking at its venues.

Since 2017, DB has been particularly focused on reducing drink driving. We know that drivers with a blood alcohol level of 0.01% are 46% more likely to be the cause of an accident than sober drivers, and we have taken a bold, zero tolerance stance when it comes to drinking and driving through our Heineken When You Drive, Never Drink advertising campaigns, local and national advocacy work, and other partnerships. While overall incidences of drink driving in New Zealand have been trending down since 1990, the number of fatalities related to drink or drugged driving have been steadily increasing since 2013. In 2019, we set out to learn more about the drink driving behaviours of Kiwis to inform our work over the coming years. You can read more about the research here.

Our progress

Our programme of work has led to some encouraging results over the past year. We are particularly pleased with the reach of our drink driving reduction campaigns, Keys Down, Real Talk, and When You Drive, Never Drink, which have been well-received by consumers. Equally, the growth of low-and-no alcohol beverages demonstrates the growth of the health and wellbeing trend in the market. We acknowledge that building a safe and social drinking culture is a long-term ambition which will require an ongoing and sustained effort from industry, government and the community.

Building partnerships 

In 2018, DB and 37 Hz, a South Auckland based creative producer, launched a community-led campaign called Keys Down, Real Talk, which aims to tackle drink driving in South Auckland. The first phase featured real-life stories from people with drink driving experiences and included music from well-known local urban artists. This content reached over 200,000 people.

We launched the next phase of the campaign in September 2019 with a series of informal online vlogs called Asking for a mate. These featured influential members of the South Auckland community, including Samoan hip hop artist, King Kapisi, former league player Ruben Wiki, and Hon Aupito Tofae Su'a William Sio, Minister for Pacific Peoples. The conversations provided a platform for guests to share their personal stories and expertise with the community, while demonstrating that participants are able to drink responsibly, hold a meaningful conversation, and leave in taxis or with a sober driver. Each vlog included a discussion around drink driving and drinking culture, with relevant content from these conversations posted on our Keys Down, Real Talk channels. After two years, the Keys Down, Real Talk campaign has reached over 400,000 people and won the 2019 community award at the Australasian Road Safety Awards.

Promoting a safe and social drinking culture through our brands

Since 2017 we have invested at least 10% of the Heineken media budget on responsible consumption messaging. In 2019, we continued to run Heineken’s When You Drive, Never Drink campaign as part of our commitment to promoting a safe and social drinking culture through our brands. Through a series of ads featuring former Formula 1 driver Nico Rosberg, we reached nearly two million people in New Zealand with this important message.

Taking action at an industry level

Cheers! is an industry initiative run by The Tomorrow Project that takes a research based approach to educating Kiwis about safe and sociable drinking behaviours. DB is an active member of Cheers! In 2019, Cheers! introduced a programme called SMASHED to New Zealand, where actors deliver an interactive performance to year 9 students on the dangers of underage drinking and peer pressure. SMASHED reached over 18,000 year 9 students, and is due to expand to all 60,000 year 9 students in 2020.

Innovating in low-and-no-alcohol beverages

Conscious consumers are increasingly choosing low-and-no alcohol beverages, and the category was worth over $36 million in New Zealand in 2019 – a 12.6% increase in value versus 2018. DB leads in market share for both segments, and in 2019, we ranged 10 beers and ciders with less than 3.5% alcohol by volume (ABV)*.

Since its launch in mid-2018, over five million Heineken 0.0 bottles have been sold in New Zealand, and the product has exceeded 2019 forecasts by 70%. 2019 also saw the development of DB Export 0.0 (launched in February 2020) to meet the growing demand for 0.0% ABV beer**. We know our brands are best enjoyed responsibly and take pride in being a consistent leader in the low-and-no alcohol category.

2019 marked the successful trial of Zero Zones in supermarkets. Developed in partnership with our customers, Zero Zones range beers, wines and spirits that have less than 0.05% ABV. They are designed to help build the overall category by providing greater visibility on shelves and help overcome negative perceptions towards non-alcoholic beverages.

* Amstel Light (2.5%); DB Export Citrus 0.0% (less than 0.05% ABV); DB Export Citrus (2% ABV); DB Export Citrus Grapefruit (2% ABV); DB Export Citrus Lime and Ginger (2% ABV); Heineken 0.0% (less than 0.05% ABV); Heineken Light (2.5% ABV); Monteith’s Mid-Strength Beer (3% ABV); Monteith’s Mid-Strength Apple Cider (2.8% ABV); Tuatara Iti APA (3.3% ABV)

** Contains only trace amounts of alcohol (less than 0.05% alc/vol)

Key targets and our performance

Key measures 2020 target 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
10% of Heineken® media budget invested in responsible consumption campaigns 10% 10.5% 10% 11% 6.2% n/a
Partnership addressing alcohol-related harm Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Responsible marketing and product labelling

DB is committed to complying with all applicable marketing communication laws, regulations and voluntary codes. Two complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about marketing materials produced by or on behalf of DB in 2019. Both complaints were referred to the ASA’s complaints board, but neither was upheld. We have had consistently low numbers of complaints to the ASA in the last five years thanks to our stringent processes.

We continue to support the strong regulatory framework for alcohol advertising and sponsorship in New Zealand. In this spirit, we contributed to the 2019 review of the ASA Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code. This Code is reviewed on a five-yearly basis to ensure the guidelines are robust and reflect the evolution of societal standards and means of advertising. The revised Code is due to be released in 2020 and includes feedback from a variety of stakeholders including public health representatives, media agencies, and the alcohol industry.

We continue to publish nutritional and ingredient information for our products either on pack or on our corporate website. Visit our product pages for more information.

In 2019, it was confirmed that pregnancy warning labels on alcoholic beverages would be compulsory in Australia and New Zealand. DB voluntarily includes a pregnancy warning label on all of its products and will ensure we adhere to the updated regulations once they are released by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

Our performance

2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
Complaints made to the ASA 2 4 4 5 5
Referrals to ASA complaints board 2 2 1 1 4
Complaints upheld 0 0 0 0 0
Warnings, fines or penalties for non-compliance 0 0 0 0 0

Looking ahead

In 2020, we will build on the outcomes of our inaugural drink driving research to develop and strengthen our drink driving reduction programme. We will also deliver a new internal responsible consumption programme for our people and continue to build the low-and-no alcohol beverage category with our customers with the expansion of Zero Zones in supermarkets.

Case study: Research shows Kiwi drivers are overconfident when it comes to drinking and getting behind the wheel


In October 2019, DB set out to explore Kiwi attitudes and behaviours towards drinking and driving in a nationwide online survey of 500 drivers over 18. The study also aimed to set a benchmark for the number of people who drink any amount of alcohol and then drive, and identify insights into how advertising and communications can positively influence people’s driving behaviours.

Read more