Product abuse in our society forms a complex and shifting spectrum. Between extreme high-risk (regular illicit drug use) and low-risk behaviours (sporadic alcohol consumption) lies a fuzzy middle ground. Alison Joubert, a Marketing PhD student at the University of Queensland, is interested in the facets of “controversial leisure” that fall between these extremes.
There is a rising availability of synthetic products that mimic the effects of mainstream illicit drugs. The key difference is that these products are technically legal as a result of a quickly evolving reactive dance to consumer legislation. By renaming brands, labeling as “not fit for human consumption,” or selling as bath salts, pot pourri, research chemicals, plant food or incense, toxic products are legally distributed. The prevalence of these “legal highs” has been linked to rising trends in psychotic behavior, self-harm and deaths among thrill seekers.
By interviewing a broad sample of the population, Alison hopes to uncover the relationship between young consumers and the “legal high” market in order to identify what motivates these consumers. Is it the effective mimicking of traditional marketing elements such as branding? Or the lure of the illicit masquerading in plain sight? Find out more about Alison’s research