The influence of brand equity characters on children’s food preferences and choices



McGale, LS ORCID: 0000-0002-7898-9846, Halford, JCG, Harrold, JA ORCID: 0000-0002-0899-4586 and Boyland, EJ ORCID: 0000-0001-8384-4994
(2016) The influence of brand equity characters on children’s food preferences and choices. Journal of Pediatrics, 177. 33 - 38.

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BEC manuscript jpeds_revisions_R2 (author accepted version).docx - Accepted Version

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To assess the influence of brand equity characters displayed on food packaging on children's food preferences and choices, 2 studies were conducted. Brand equity characters are developed specifically to represent a particular brand or product. Despite existing literature suggesting that promotional characters influence children's food choices, to date, no research has assessed the influence of brand equity characters specifically. STUDY DESIGN: We recruited 209 children 4-8 years of age from schools and childcare centers in the UK. In a mixed-measures design, the children were asked to rate their taste preferences and preferred snack choice for 3 matched food pairs, presented either with or without a brand equity character displayed on packaging. Study 1 addressed congruent food-character associations and study 2 addressed incongruent associations. Participants were also asked to rate their recognition and liking of characters used. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests and χ(2) analyses were used where appropriate. RESULTS: Children were significantly more likely to show a preference for foods with a brand equity character displayed on the packaging compared with a matched food without a brand equity character, for both congruent and incongruent food-character associations. The presence of a brand equity character also significantly influenced the children's within-pair preferences, within-pair choices, and overall snack choice (congruent associations only). CONCLUSIONS: Displaying brand equity characters promotes unhealthy food choices in children. The findings are consistent with those of studies exploring other types of promotional characters. In the context of a childhood obesity epidemic, the use of brand equity characters in the promotion of foods high in fat, salt, and sugar to children should be restricted.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: brand equity, characters, children, food choice, food marketing, food packaging, food preference
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2016 15:48
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2020 10:33
DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.06.025
Related URLs:
URI: http://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3002092