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Child-targeted on-pack communications in Belgian supermarkets: associations with nutritional value and type of brand

14 Sep 2017

AbstractPersuasive on-pack marketing strategies, such as colourful images and games, affect children’s preferences and requests. The purpose of this study was to describe the prevalence of these child-directed (i.e. aimed at children) strategies on food packages at a Belgian retailer. Although previous research already demonstrated the frequency of most of these techniques directed at children, this paper extends to food pricing and facing strategies (i.e. the number of items from the same product aligned next to each other in the supermarket shelves) which were unstudied till now. Moreover, the association between the use of these strategies, the products’ (un)healthiness and their type of brand (national vs. private) is investigated. The content analysis found that 372 food products contained one or more child-directed marketing strategies on-pack, all these communications were coded; the products could be classified in 15 food categories. On average, 3.9 (Min = 1; Max = 8) food promotion techniques were used per package. Unhealthiness of products was rated according to Food Standards Agency (FSA) Nutrient Profile UK. We found that 89.2% of all products with child-directed strategies were considered to be unhealthy. The presence of marketing strategies was associated with higher product unhealthiness, but did not differ much between types of brand. Overall, these findings suggest that (unhealthy) foods aimed at children typically feature many on-pack persuasive communications, which implies that policy makers should (continue to) monitor this. These findings highlight the need for further research to investigate the impact of on-pack communications on children's consumption.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Health Promotion International