An Up­side of Mar­ket­ing Food to Chil­dren

Con­ven­tional mar­ket­ing tech­niques can in­crease chil­dren’s veg­etable se­lec­tion

Wellness Update - - Content -

Dec­o­rat­ing school salad bars with a col­or­ful wrap-around ban­ners fea­tur­ing veg­etable char­ac­ters in­creased salad se­lec­tion by 90%

When a TV mon­i­tor show­ing an ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram with the same veg­etable char­ac­ters was placed near the dec­o­rated salad bar, salad se­lec­tion al­most tripled!

Mar­ket­ing nutritious foods to chil­dren is an e ec­tive way of in­creas­ing se­lec­tion of healthy tar­get foods in school cafe­te­rias.

If you think it’s too chal­leng­ing to get young kids to will­ingly take veg­eta­bles, think again! The same meth­ods that fast food and candy com­pa­nies use to mar­ket food to chil­dren – col­or­ful ban­ners, ex­cit­ing char­ac­ters, and catchy video ads— can be used to in­crease the num­ber of chil­dren that take veg­eta­bles in school cafe­te­rias. In fact, Cor­nell re­searchers found that 239% more stu­dents lined up at the salad bar when it was dec­o­rated us­ing col­or­ful ban­ners with veg­etable car­toon-char­ac­ters and fun, nu­tri­tion ed­u­ca­tion videos.

In this new study pub­lished in Pe­di­atrics, Cor­nell Cen­ter for Be­hav­ioral Eco­nomics in Child Nu­tri­tion Pro­grams (BEN Cen­ter) re­searchers ex­plore two mar­ket­ing strate­gies to en­cour­age more kids to take veg­eta­bles as part of their school lunch: 1) vinyl wrap-around ban­ners that fas­ten to the lower por­tion of salad bars de­pict­ing veg­etable car­toon char­ac­ters and 2) nu­tri­tion ed­u­ca­tion videos nar­rated by the same char­ac­ters. “Choice is ex­tremely im­por­tant be­cause, just like adults, kids are more likely to stick to their choice if they feel they made it freely. There­fore, kids who are nudged to choose veg­eta­bles us­ing fun mar­ket­ing cam­paigns are more likely to eat them than those who are forced to take them,” ex­plains co-au­thor and co-di­rec­tor of the Cor­nell BEN Cen­ter, David Just, PhD.

For this six week study con­ducted at 10 ele­men­tary schools in a large ur­ban school dis­trict, re­searchers used Founders Farm trade­marked Su­per Sprowt vinyl wrap-around ban­ners, at screen tele­vi­sions, and video seg­ments with the veg­gie car­toon char­ac­ters ex­plain­ing the bene ts of healthy food choices. The char­ac­ters are per­soni ed vege-

tables in­clud­ing broc­coli, car­rots, spinach, peas and many others.

The re­searchers ob­served how many stu­dents served them­selves from the salad bar be­fore and af­ter adding the ban­ners and videos to the salad bar. In schools where just the ban­ner was used, 90% more stu­dents vis­ited the salad bar. In schools where videos were shown on TV mon­i­tors in ad­di­tion to the ban­ners, 239% more stu­dents se­lected veg­eta­bles from the salad bar!

Th­ese nd­ings demon­strate how con­ven­tional mar­ket­ing tools such as ban­ners and videos can in­crease how many kids take veg­eta­bles – lead­ing to more nutritious, bal­anced meals and ul­ti­mately to health­ier stu­dents. “Veg­etable mar­ket­ing in schools is a low cost win-win so­lu­tion for food providers, school meal pro­grams, and stu­dents,” says lead au­thor Drew Hanks, PhD, now a pro­fes­sor at Ohio State Univer­sity. He ex­plains, “The re­sults of this study high­light how the per­sua­sive­ness of mar­ket­ing me­dia can be lever­aged in a pos­i­tive way by en­cour­ag­ing chil­dren to make more nutritious choices.” —This in­for­ma­tion pro­vided cour­tesy of Cor­nell Univer­sity Food & Brand Lab This study was funded by the Cor­nell Cen­ter for Be­hav­ioral Eco­nomics in Child Nu­tri­tion Pro­grams, the Cor­nell Food and Brand Lab and the Bernard Group which pro­vided the Su­per Sprowtz ban­ners used. The study was con­ducted by Drew Hanks, PhD, Ohio State Univer­sity (for­merly a re­searcher at the Cor­nell BEN Cen­ter), David Just, PhD, Co-di­rec­tor of the BEN Cen­ter, and Adam Brum­berg, Cor­nell Food and Brand Lab.

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