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The Effects of Fast Food Marketing Methods on The Consumers’ Willingness to Buy

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“Good advertising does not just circulate information. It penetrates the public mind with desires and belief.” – William Bernbach

Advertisements for fast food products tend to exceed the customer’s expectations. When an advertisement is viewed, the fast food product is marketed in a way that influences the consumer in terms of the physical appearance of the product. It tends to have a certain appearance on the advertisement but the moment the product is purchased, the outcome is not as appealing as expected.

There is an infinite number of articles and literature that address the effects of fast food marketing methods on the consumers’ willingness to buy. The articles all point that the increase in sales of fast food is caused by effective marketing methods and more exposure to these marketing methods increases the likeliness of that person buying fast food.

An experiment was performed in 2007 in the United States to discover what effect branding of fast foods have on children’s’ preferences. They tested 63 children by exposing them to two samples of food, claiming that one food was McDonalds and the other was unbranded when in fact, both foods were McDonalds. From this experiment, it was noted that 48% preferred McDonalds, 37% preferred the “unbranded” burger and 15% said they were the same. The 48% of the children chose McDonalds despite them being the same because their minds have been trained to associate McDonalds with a specific image that makes them believe it is the better option. In the experiment, it was also discovered that children who had more access to television was more likely to choose McDonalds. This shows that the more a child is exposed to marketing and branding, the more that child’s preferences changes in favour of the specific fast food restaurant. This is relevant to my topic because this ORT is about testing the influence that fast food marketing methods have on the consumers’ preferences and their willingness to buy. This article is reliable because the experiment performed was eliminated of factors that could cause the children to be bias and had many control variables to help represent valuable information that could be compared.

The article “How Television Fast Food Marketing Aimed at Children Compares with Adult Advertisements” is a comparison of different marketing methods used between adults and children. It is natural for a child to have different perspectives in comparison to adults and different things amuse them. The article highlights that children’s’ advertisement mainly revolves around kiddie’s meals, complementary toys and movie relations whilst adults’ advertisements focus on the important aspects such as look, meal portion sizes and price. It is for their different perspectives that business such as McDonalds and Burger King use different marketing methods to catch the eye of little children. This relates to my topic because of its regards to marketing and the effect it has on people. The different marketing methods all target different groups but they all have one main purpose, to attract customers and promote their product. This article helps highlight how every age group has different reactions to different advertisements, but despite the differences in advertisements, the effects that these advertisements have on the person viewing them will be similar despite the age. For children, the toy might attract them, and they would nag their parents to buy it for them. With regards to the parent, the price might catch their eye and convince them to buy it. Even though fast food business releases different advertisements to target different age groups, everyone becomes affected by the advertisement.

Another experiment took place in Australia to determine the effect food marketing with movie character toys has on young children’s preferences with regards to healthy and unhealthy foods. Nine hundred and four Grade 1 and 2 students had participated in this experiment. These kids were tested under four different conditions where movie tie-in premiums (MTIP’s) are used in the majority of the tests. Children of this age tend to love collecting toys from these different fast food restaurants and it’s a mission to complete the collection. Whenever they view a promotion using a MTIP, they convince their parents to buy the food for them multiple times because they are determined to complete their collection. The familiar media characters have a strong influence on the children. Their vision is blurred when entertainment and marketing clash and the children cannot tell them apart. They are not aware of the persuasive intent and are therefore susceptible to it. Most of the time, these MTIP’s are associated with unhealthy foods, and it is due to this why the obesity rates are continuously increasing. Instead of manipulating children to buy unhealthy food for toys, it would be ideal to associate MTIP’s with healthier foods to promote healthy eating, help decrease the obesity rates and continue to make money from the manipulation of little children. This article is extremely relative to my topic because movie characters is one method of marketing, and this method is used to manipulate young children who love collecting toys. This is an example of many different methods of marketing that is used to manipulate customers into buying their products. The “free” toys were used as leverage to attract the specific target market to buy the product, and it was because of this that the consumers were willing to buy these products. According to the article, some children said they preferred the healthier option when it was associated with movie characters. This indicates that the children do not care about the actual product, they only care about the promotion that goes along with it. This is proof that marketing is a very powerful tool and it is very useful in persuading consumers to buy the product, and hence affects the willingness for the consumer to buy it.

According to folk wisdom, “eye appeal is half the meal.” An experiment was conducted to assess what effect vision deprivation has on taste perceptions, willingness to buy, intake behaviour and the ability to monitor food intake. Participants were divided into two groups: blindfolded and non-blindfolded. Each participant from both groups were provided with three cups with different ice-cream in each. Both groups were asked a series of questions regarding the ice-cream. The blindfolded group gave higher ratings for the ambiguity of the taste but at the same time, said they were less willing to buy the product than the non-blindfolded group. Visual deprivation did not affect the food intake, but actual food intake was much lower than perceived food intake. It is said that food items have “visual flavour” and when the blindfolded group was deprived of their eyesight, the visual flavour was non-existent. When dealing with the marketing mix, product is one of the factors and the visual properties of a product are very important in portraying the product. This applies to the fast food industry as well. The visual properties of fast food initially attract the consumer and according to the secondary research from this article, being able to see the product when eating results in the consumer being more willing to buy the product. If the product is visually attractive and the marketing done with regards to the product is strong, the consumers will be more willing to buy the product. The way the product looks greatly affects the consumers’ willingness to buy. This article is reliable because of the limitations and controlled variable that were implemented. Factors such as the type of ice-cream used were controlled. The investigators tried to decrease differences in hunger levels by scheduling an appointment with all the participants where they would have to refrain from eating for two hours before the experiment. The two groups differed with regards to pre-consumption hunger and outdoor temperature during experiment but additional control analyses were taken to make sure that these factors would not affect the results obtained from the experiment.

Most literature research with regards to fast food marketing is focused on children, so this article is different and focuses on adults. In 2005 in Australia, a market research company conducted a telephone survey on adults of 18 years and older. They asked questions with regards to BMI (Body Mass Index), how much commercial television they watch and approximately how much fast food they consume etc. This was done to discover what effect advertising exposure has on adults’ consumption of fast foods. From the results, it was deduced that participants who are more exposed to commercial television and advertising have a higher fast food consumption in comparison to those who are exposed to less than one hour of television per day. This proves that exposure to excessive marketing affects the consumers’ consumption and therefor affects their willingness to buy. The more a consumer views an advertisement on television, the more they think about that specific business and product. It was found that the advertisement would be done in a way that it draws the consumer more and more every time they view it. There are perceptions created by the advertisements when fast food is marketed, and according to this article, it is these perceptions created from viewing the advertisement multiple times that make the consumer want to consume the product more willingly.

The article “Exposure to food advertising on television: Associations with children’s fast food and soft drink consumption and obesity” is very similar to the previous one, except it focuses on children. This article was a direct investigation of the effect fast food marketing has on children’s’ fast food consumption as well as the increase of obesity within the young age group. This was a non-experimental investigation. The researchers used previously found data on children’s exposure to food advertising on television as their independent variable and they made the participants complete a food consumption questionnaire for the dependent variable. The average fifth-grader spends most of their time in front of a television and in 2002 they were exposed to 297 fast food commercials according to this article. It was observed that the reason for the high consumption in fast foods and soft drinks was due to the increase in exposure to television. Soft drink consumptions aren’t fully affected by advertising because children drink it even when diet beverages are advertised, and this could be because they like the taste, they are loyal customers, or they grew up thinking that was the best drink. The increase in fast food consumption showed a negative impact on the obesity levels worldwide, and instead of decreasing the amount of advertising being put out, fast food restaurants are trying to implement diet meals to counter-react the obesity rates, but this has proven to make no noticeable difference. With regards to fast foods, the more someone views an advertisement, the more willing they are to buy and consume the product. This is very relevant to my research question which also focuses on the effects fast food marketing methods have on the consumers’ willingness to buy. Not only does the excessive marketing influence willingness to buy but is also influenced by the type of advertisement being used as identified in an earlier article.

Exposure to any marketing method, whether it be about promotion or is focused on the product, greatly influences the consumer’s willingness to buy and consume as proven by the secondary research conducted.

With help from the above articles, it can be concluded that the fast food branding of the business greatly impacts willingness to buy because the more familiar one is with a brand, the more willing you will be to choose it over something else. It was also discovered that when a product is being promoted for example with toys or anything to do with upcoming and exciting events, people tend to buy the product mainly for the complementary products that come with it. The product is part of the marketing mix and the portrayal of the product greatly impacts the willingness to buy of the consumers, because, as mentioned before, “eye appeal is half the meal.” The frequency at which an advertisement plays is also a big factor that contributes to willingness to buy because the more frequent you view it, the more familiar the product and business becomes and the more willing you will be to buy it next time you see it.

Each article mentioned above are different from the next, but all are highly relevant to the secondary research of this literature review and supports the primary research that will be conducted in this review.

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The Effects of Fast Food Marketing Methods on the Consumers’ Willingness to Buy. (2019, Jun 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 24, 2021, from
“The Effects of Fast Food Marketing Methods on the Consumers’ Willingness to Buy.” GradesFixer, 12 Jun. 2019,
The Effects of Fast Food Marketing Methods on the Consumers’ Willingness to Buy. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Oct. 2021].
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