How logos help kids pick junk foods?

According to a new study from the University of Maryland School of Public Health published in the Journal of Children and Media in 2018, young children prefer junk food and sugar sweetened beverages over traditional and home cooked meals because of marketing and advertising.

The researchers worked in Brazil, China, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Russia.

“Why would a five year old say that they want a Coca Cola over a lassi?  Kentucky Fried Chicken over a stir-fried chicken and vegetable dish made by mum?” asked researcher Dina Borzekowski, Ed.D.  “Our findings draw attention to the insidious and pervasive nature of marketing and how it impacts children’s health.”

These children could express opinions about the quality of international and domestic products based on the marketing and advertising messages they had internalised.

Yet another study concluded in 2010 that 3 – 5 year olds were already judging people by the products they chose.

Image:  Diaspora.  Social media platforms were busy with questions about the source of the claim that children could identify 1000 corporate logos but fewer than 10 animals or plants.
The 2018 study provides evidence that global and international marketing reaches very young children through the media and many other diverse platforms such as billboards, packaging, branded clothes and backpacks.  Marketing messages influence children’s food and beverage choices.  If you put a McDonald’s label on carrots, children will say that it tastes better.
The research team showed children two similar products and asked which product the kids wanted:   international or domestic.  They also used 0 to 4 smiley faces for children to rate how much they desired a variety of domestic and international products.  The children preferred international over domestic and local food and beverages.  The study showed that children’s choices were related to their recognition of logos and brand names.
According to a different study even pre-schoolers are able to recognize brand names and symbols.  In 2010, researchers at the University of Madison-Wisconsin and the University of Michigan showed that a group of 3- to 5-year-olds were able to recognize ‘child-oriented’ brands.  These children were also able to make judgments about products and the people using them.
Image:  Youtube Video
Branding is very pervasive and children, like adults, have a need to classify the things around them. They use brand names to do just that.  Will it be possible to get brand names out of children’s lives?  We know the answer to this question, so, it is better to talk about the marketing they experience with children and raise their degree of awareness.

The kids who are most at risk are those whose exposure to marketing is not limited or those who do not talk with adults about the advertising they see.  Children whose parents and carers invest time, attention and education in communicating with them about advertising and marketing will be less at risk.