The impact in low-income countriesJanuary 6, 2022
- A new study reveals that fast food companies, such as McDonald’s, are focusing their marketing on low-income countries.
- They do this using popular social media sites, such as Instagram (IG), and other digital media platforms.
- This report suggests McDonald’s may use IG marketing ads that target young consumers worldwide.
McDonald’s media outreach is global — it operates in 101 countries. According to a new report, the marketing ads it uses to target young consumers may play a role in the food consumption patterns that lead to health complications later in life.
The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Omni Cassidy — assistant professor of Population Health at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine — and her collaborators reported the results in a paper that appears in BMJ Nutrition Prevention and Health.
The study randomly selected 15 countries to discover how McDonald’s markets its products on different continents. The researchers wanted to see if the company’s marketing practices differed by the consumer environments in the chosen countries.
They focused their study on IG because it is one of the most popular social media platforms among adolescents and young adults.
This study followed randomly selected official McDonald’s IG accounts for 4 months, from September to December 2019. In April 2020, it quantified the number of followers, likes, comments, and video views associated with each account. The researchers published their results in December 2021.
The researchers divided the countries into three groups according to 2019 World Bank Database criteria. These were high-income countries (HIC), upper-middle-income countries (UMIC), and lower-middle-income countries (LMIC). Their purpose was to discover if McDonald’s advertising methods varied according to the financial status of a country.
The study showed that McDonald’s posted more IG ads and used price promotions, giveaways, and child-targeting marketing tactics in LMICs. These ads are effective where the price of foods and beverages is essential in consumer purchasing decisions.
Speaking to Medical News Today, Dr. Cassidy remarked that: “Marketing on these platforms gives McDonald’s a way to create ads that are engaging, ‘cool,’ and can be easily tailored to fit the target audience. This is problematic because the types of products they market are mainly those with a lot of fat, sugar, and salt, which we know are linked to poor diet and poor health.”
Dr. Cassidy went on to explain the real-world implications of this, noting that “[t]hese types of ads contribute to an environment that makes it harder for adults and children to make healthy food choices.”
“These tactics create young consumers who will remain loyal to their brand throughout their lifespan,” she also added.
“For those living…