Effects of Fast Food Branding on Young Children's Taste Preferences

The impact of food marketing on the taste preferences of preschool children was explored in this study. Study participants were 63 parents and their children ranging from 3- to 5-years of age. Children took part in a food tasting experiment. The children were presented with a series of food and drink pairs that were the same in all respects, except for being packaged in McDonald's or plain wrapping. Children were asked if the pair of food and drink tasted the same or if they preferred one item in the pair to the other. Parents completed survey questionnaires.

Key Findings:

  • The mean preference score across the five pairs of items children tasted was 0.37 with a significant difference from zero. This indicated children thought food and drink tasted better if they believed the items came from McDonald's.
  • There was a significantly higher likelihood that children preferred food or drink they believed to come from McDonald's for four of the five comparisons presented to them.
  • Analysis of moderator variables illustrated that children who ate larger amounts of food from McDonald's more frequently and had a higher number of televisions at home were more likely to say food tasted better if they believed it came from McDonald's.