Posted: August 12th, 2013
Marketing is the department that is responsible for creating a market for goods and services provided by the company. Marketing involves identifying a market, understanding consumers’ needs, attracting and convincing the consumers and coming up with strategic ways to maintain consumers. Marketers targeting children understand that children have a great influence over their parents hence they target the children. However, children are incapable of making informed decisions as they are led by a basic desire to have an item that they feel connected to. McDonald’s is one organization that deals with fast foods, which many people consider unhealthy, and it has been on the receiving end with blame on it being one of the major contributors for the high rise in obesity in children.
Is McDonald’s responsible for the rise of obesity in children or are the children’s parents responsible?
In my opinion, McDonald’s is not responsible for obesity in children. Parents are responsible for instilling principles in their children and teaching them what is good for them and what is not. Parents are supposed to have the power to say no to their children and explain to them the health risks of fast foods. However, they end up being the ones who take their children to the fast food joints. Yet another reason why parents are to blame for obesity is their lack of concern on the nutrition of the children when in school. Most public schools’ diets are low on nutrition and high on fats as the schools try to minimize costs by cutting the budget on meals. If parents followed up on what their children ate in school and demanded that nutritional meals are served, a healthy culture would be adapted by the children.
Other than that, most parents lead unhealthy lifestyles. Most parents are overworked and hence they get too tired to either enroll in fitness programs or prepare a healthy meal hence end up taking junk food. According to the Erik Erikson’s developmental stages theory, children between the age of three and five have an urge to copy what their parents do (Harder, 2012). Therefore, the habit that a parent adapts will be transferred onto the child. There has been a steady rise in technological gadgets that require less physical activity targeting children hence children spend most of their time immersed in computer and video games and watching television fashioned for children. The combined effect of eating too much fast food and not exercising contributes greatly to the rise in obesity levels.
The impact of McDonald’s marketing on consumers
One of the major impacts of McDonald’s on consumers is the great influence it has in relation to consumers’ decisions concerning food. McDonald’s has gained so much popularity among consumers that people have turned to fast foods as the main meals. McDonald’s have joints in so many places providing easy access to fast foods. Yet another reason for its popularity is that the company creates appealing advertisements that capture the targeted markets’ attention (Nazlin, 1999). They give offers that are desirable to children such as giving of toys with every happy meal bought. Other than that McDonald’s uses repetitive advertisement, where their advertisements are played repeatedly at intervals during television’s most watched periods. During these advertisements, McDonald’s stresses on minor differences of their products to those of their competitors hence influencing consumers to be more inclined to buy their products.
Through the vigorous advertising activities and the creativity that is implemented in McDonald’s advertisements, other competing companies have been compelled to employ more creativity in their advertisements. Hence, McDonald’s has lead to a transformation in the advertising sector of food products bringing about growth. Another impact that the company has had is that its enormous growth has become a great frustration to other competing companies forcing some to undergo major losses ending up in closure.
Ways in which societal marketing can be used to influence children’s consumption of healthier diets
Societal marketing plays a great role in children’s feeding habits. Children are easily manipulated, as they do not have the ability to judge what is good or to understand the main motive behind advertisements is coercing consumers to buy the advertised product (Nazlin, 1999). Societal marketing can help in shaping a healthy eating culture where programs that children watch can be used to indirectly promote good health. For instance, programs such as cartoons and kid club programs should incorporate parts where the main and popular characters eat healthy products such as carrots and drinking milk.
Yet another way is by the government setting standards for food product. A certain level of calories should not be exceeded per certain grams of edible products. Parents should be notified on checking the calorie level using government-initiated campaigns. The government should also initiate advertising campaigns on the importance of healthy eating using children oriented techniques to encourage children to love healthy foods.
Reasons why advertising to children should not be banned
In my opinion advertising to children should not be completely banned. Banning such advertisements would mean lowering the level of information a child receives which would hinder a child’s growth in some way. What I would encourage is parents paying more attention to what children watch and explaining to them the benefits and harm of such products. This will aid in growing a child’s cognitive ability and the ability to make good judgments. Instead of blaming obesity on advertising, alternative solutions can be pursued. For instance healthy living should be encouraged with physical activities being incorporated in school programs to encourage children to get involved in exercises. Parents should also act as role models to their children by getting involved in physical exercises and adopting healthy eating habits in homes.
Trends in fast food industry in Australia
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2000), the fast food restaurant sector in Australia controlled about sixty percent of the market share. This is because as the economic times get harder, most people are opting to switch from eating healthy foods at restaurants, to eating in fast- food outlets. Yet another factor influencing this growth is the vigorous advertising adapted by fast food providers and the expansion of fast food chains to make them more accessible to consumers. The market volume of fast food industry is estimated at an annual rate of four percent meaning that in the future the market share will expand to more than it already is (Nazlin, 1999). Australia’s consumer expenditure has experienced a continual rise in the food consumption expenditure which has had a direct impact in the growth of the fast food industry (ABS, 2000).
As much as advertising may have an impact in the rise in obesity levels, unhealthy lifestyles and lack of societal concern on children’s health has contributed a great deal. Measures should be taken to curb the threat of an unhealthy future nation with producers of unhealthy products being urged to include healthy products in their lines. The government, schools, hospitals and parents should also join in the campaign to restore a culture of healthy living. Society should show concern for children and take measures to ensure that children get to live a healthy fulfilling life.
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