A recently and widely covered study shows us how the power of the brand can change people’s perceptions and how they react to your products regardless of their quality.
The study conducted by Dr. David Katz, the director of Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, concluded that 3 to 5 year old kids who tasted a variety of foods, said that they preferred the ones in the McDonald’s wrapper, showing that children are highly influenced by brands. In the ‘experiment’, the team took samples of each of 5 foods, chicken nuggets, a hamburger, french fries, carrots and milk, with one sample wrapped in McDonald’s wrapping and another in generic wrapping. Even though the foods were exactly the same, kids ultimately pointed out the ones in the McDonald’s packing as the ones that tasted better.
While there is no secret that McDonald’s is neither the healthiest or the tastiest option available to our kids or our adults, and there have been documentaries, research, and countless articles covering this and urging patrons to think wisely, this study proves that the McDonald’s brand, based on its smart advertising strategies is able to influence prospective customers early enough and often enough that the negative press hasn’t prevented the brand from growing consistently.
“Children, it seems, literally do judge a food by its cover. And they prefer the cover they know,” said Katz, who was not involved in the research.
Further evidence that this opinion in kids is a consequence of the McDonald’s marketing machine, comes from the facts that McDonald’s is the only fast-food chain that substantially advertises its products to children (spending over $1 billion to do so), and the children that were used in fact had 2.4 television sets in their homes, with more than half the kids having a television in their rooms.
While this is not to argue that companies should be light on quality and high on marketing, it shows the importance of cultivating a strong brand, hopefully to supplement and not replace quality.