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    Thursday, August 09, 2007

    Children Would Eat McDonalds Tar if they Could

    A new study has come out showing the power of branding works. The bad news is children prefer everything in a McDonalds Wrapper. The JAMAstudy wanted to describe how food marketing that targets children is grossly widespread (hmm thats not leading) and seeks to highlight the more than 10 billion dollars spent per year to market to children. What i found extraordinary was that "by the time they are two years old children may already have beliefs about certain brands, and by the age of 6 they can recognize brands and say which products they belong to."

    A few of the eye-popping results:

    * On average, the children preferred the taste of the food and drink in the McDonald's packaging over the identical products in unmarked packaging.
    * The result for hamburgers was 48.3 per cent vs. 36.7 per cent.
    * For chicken nuggets the result was 59 per cent vs. 18 per cent.
    * For baby carrots the result was 54.1 per cent vs. 23 per cent.
    * For french fries the result was 76.7 per cent vs. 13.3 per cent.
    * For milk or apple juice the result was 61.3 per cent vs. 21 per cent.
    * Futher analysis showed that 4 out of 5 times, children preferred the taste of food and drink that they thought was from McDonald's.
    * Preschool children who had more TV sets in their homes, and children who ate McDonald's foods more frequently were also more likely to prefer McDonald's branded food and drink to the identical unbranded items.

    It's nothing new that children are sponges to our everyday behaviors. What is interesting is the wide-margin between desirable and non. Organizers plan to contrast different brands and packaging with variable levels of recognition and natural exposure. I wish i had a chance to ask a few more questions:

    Types of colors/logos/characters that appeal to tots. What is the range and relation?

    When are these children connecting with the products and where? Is it beyond the TV? Could it?

    *Food Type
    How much does natural play in here? These foods are just Big Macs, but products outside the current offerings. How far can this stretch?

    *Behavior vs Awareness
    This is the biggie for me. So these children prefer it, but do they act on it (or mom)?

    *Brand Depth
    While i would deep dive on all the above areas, looking at the role of other brands would be particularly interesting.
    How far does the power of branding reach? How much do lesser brands play a role and whats the relation to advertising (probably immense, but its that million dollar question)

    What kinds of things populate their life and to what extent?

    Not one mention of Ronald either. Poor Chap. McDonalds should wake up from their cheesburger coma and realize they have a nice insight here. Definitely something to incorporate into an established brand that is apparently shaping values in products they could be offering.





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