Effects of Fast Food Branding on Young Children's Taste Preferences

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (Impact Factor: 5.73). 08/2007; 161(8):792-7. DOI: 10.1001/archpedi.161.8.792
Source: PubMed


To examine the effects of cumulative, real-world marketing and brand exposures on young children by testing the influence of branding from a heavily marketed source on taste preferences.
Experimental study. Children tasted 5 pairs of identical foods and beverages in packaging from McDonald's and matched but unbranded packaging and were asked to indicate if they tasted the same or if one tasted better.
Preschools for low-income children.
Sixty-three children (mean +/- SD age, 4.6 +/- 0.5 years; range, 3.5-5.4 years).
Branding of fast foods.
A summary total taste preference score (ranging from -1 for the unbranded samples to 0 for no preference and +1 for McDonald's branded samples) was used to test the null hypothesis that children would express no preference.
The mean +/- SD total taste preference score across all food comparisons was 0.37 +/- 0.45 (median, 0.20; interquartile range, 0.00-0.80) and significantly greater than zero (P<.001), indicating that children preferred the tastes of foods and drinks if they thought they were from McDonald's. Moderator analysis found significantly greater effects of branding among children with more television sets in their homes and children who ate food from McDonald's more often.
Branding of foods and beverages influences young children's taste perceptions. 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.

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Available from: Dina L G Borzekowski, Oct 05, 2015
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    • "July 29, 2015 2 / 16 associations , such as positive product attributes and themes , can be attached ; and ( 2) brand familiarity leads to liking and positive ( affective ) associations with the products [ 8 ] . The importance of brand familiarity on children ' s food preferences was clearly demon - strated in an experimental trial by Robinson et al in 2007 . In this study , children ( n = 63 , 3 – 5 years ) were offered two paired samples of five identical foods / beverages , one at a time and asked to indicate which they preferred . "
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    • "Consumer symbolism, as the act of adoption, adaptation and assignment to a specific branded choice is apparent for preexisting possessions, extremely biased upon gender, but void of cultural context (Nairn, et al., 2008). A recent study on 63 preschool children from low-income families in San Mateo County, California, showed increased preference for food items (McDonald's nuggets and fries, and carrots and milk purchased at a local store) wrapped in McDonald's packaging instead of plain paper (Robinson, et al., 2007). A similar study on 65 preschoolers of all income brackets in Alberta, Canada, showed increased preference for a colourful packaging, rather than for branded or plain (Elliott, et al., 2013). "
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