The campaign is being run in partnership with Drinkaware, Diageo and Heineken and forms part of Sainsbury’s 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan, in which the supermarket has committed to doubling its sales of lighter alcohol wine by 2020.
It kicks off on January 6 and 7 with in-store sampling of wines at 10.5% abv and under, as well as alternative serve sizes of spirits and beer.
Customers will be invited to test their awareness of alcohol units by pouring a typical home measure and then finding out how many units are in it, and each participating consumer will be given a Drinkaware unit wheel to help them judge unit content better in the future.
Health minister Paul Burstow has welcomed the campaign, which runs until January 24 and sees lighter alcohol wine and Diageo pre-mix spirits cans promoted at 25% off, and 4x33cl packs of Heineken lager discounted to £4.
He said: "People’s understanding and awareness of alcohol units is still patchy. If advice on alcohol is going to mean something to people we must be able to know how much we’re actually drinking and compare that against the guidelines.
"I welcome the work that Sainsbury’s, Diageo and Heineken are doing, working together with Drinkaware, to improve people’s understanding of alcohol units and promote responsible drinking. It helps make it easier for us all to better gauge how many units we're drinking.”
Helen Buck, chair of Sainsbury’s Responsible Drinking Group, said: “We know that after the excesses of the festive period, our customers often look for ways to help manage their alcohol intake. By working with our partners Drinkaware, Diageo and Heineken to provide customers with information about serve sizes and unit calculations at the relevant time, we hope to help them form a better understanding that will help ensure their alcohol intake remains at a responsible level into the longer term.”
Chris Sorek, chief executive of alcohol education charity Drinkaware, said: “January is the perfect time to help those seeking a healthier lifestyle in 2012 to be better informed about how many units and calories are in their favourite drink. The unit calculator is a handy reference tool that can be used throughout the year.”
Diageo GB’s grocery channel director Andy Adams said: “We are delighted to be part of this initiative alongside Sainsbury’s, Drinkaware and Heineken. This is a great opportunity to help raise people’s awareness of alcohol units and the importance of drinking responsibly. We hope this weekend’s activity, along with Diageo’s wider work supporting the Public Health Responsibility Deal, will help remind people how many units they are consuming.”
Heineken’s UK off-trade director Martin Porter said: "We see this initiative as another great way to create an environment for consumers to make the right choices about their alcohol consumption. Working with Sainsbury's, Drinkaware and Diageo allows us to reach a broader range of consumers, creating a much greater impact, and builds on the increasing levels of investment that we make in this area."