Food for Thought
No doubt about it, today’s kids are savvy consumers who know what they want and how to get it from mom and dad. This fact has not been lost on fast-food marketers, who have stepped up their branding campaigns with television ads that target young children.
As evidence, researchers conducted an “experimental” study that asked 63 children (aged 3.5–5.4 years) to taste five pairs of identical foods and beverages; each pair of foods was divided into branded packages that were marked as coming from McDonald’s and unbranded packages. The kids were then asked to indicate if the food pairs tasted the same or if one tasted better.
In the end, the unbranded foods in each pair lost the taste test. Guess all those ad dollars are doing the job. Interestingly, the analysis found significantly greater effects of branding among children who had more television sets in their home and those who ate out at McDonald’s frequently.
“Branding of foods and beverages influences young children’s taste perceptions,” concluded the authors, writing in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. “The findings are consistent with recommendations to regulate marketing to young children, and also suggest that branding may be a useful strategy for improving young children’s eating behaviors.”
These findings come on the heels of recent announcements by 11 major food and drink companies, including McDonald’s, that promise to voluntarily set new curbs on marketing to children under the age of 12.