What is racial and ethnic target marketing?
One of the strategies that food and beverage companies use to make people feel like a product is special or just for them is target marketing. This tactic involves directing marketing to specific demographics based on race, ethnicity, gender, age and other characteristics.1 Target marketing of food to children of color is problematic because most of the marketed products are unhealthy
- Target marketing of “ethnic-minority children … present(s) a particularly attractive target to food marketers because of their increasing population size, spending power, and media exposure.”2 Additionally, they get what Sonya Grier has described as a “double dose” of marketing, as they are exposed to both mainstream campaigns and general marketing messages.
- Companies market unhealthy foods and drinks to children of color in all of the places where kids live, learn and play. In addition to television, marketers use online and mobile media, marketing in schools, child care centers and supermarkets, as well as scholarships and charitable donations, which help foster good will and insulate companies from criticism.
- Target marketing is particularly problematic because the groups being targeted with junk food, soda and other unhealthy products are disproportionately affected by nutrition-related diseases, such diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
- Junk food marketing to children of color: The current reality and what we can do about it — PPT slide deck
Berkeley Media Studies Group
- Improving restaurant kids’ meals: Impact on low-income children and children of color
Center for Science in the Public Interest and Voices for Healthy Kids
- Health equity & junk food marketing: Talking about targeting kids of color
Berkeley Media Studies Group
- Statement of principles
Prepared by the Target Marketing Subcommittee of the Food Marketing Workgroup
- Annotated bibliography on target marketing
Prepared by Berkeley Media Studies Group for the Food Marketing Workgroup
- Food Marketing Workgroup subcommittee on target marketing to communities of color
Chaired by Berkeley Media Studies Group
This subcommittee is a diverse coalition of public health professionals, nutrition advocates, and other organizations dedicated to eliminating harmful food marketing. The subcommittee is particularly concerned about the aggressive target marketing of junk food and sugary drinks to those who are most vulnerable to diabetes and other nutrition-related diseases. These products are high in sugars, salt, and fats, and contribute largely to these diseases. The subcommittee aims to change the way junk food and sugary drinks are marketed to communities of color, especially children. If you are interested in learning more about — or joining — the subcommittee, contact Berkeley Media Studies Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Harris JL, Shehan C, Gross R. Food Advertising Targeted to Hispanic and Black Youth: Contributing to Health Disparities. Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, August 2015. Accessed at http://www.uconnruddcenter.org/files/Pdfs/272-7%20%20Rudd_Targeted%20Marketing%20Report_Release_081115.pdf.
2. Germond C, Ramirez A, Gallion KJ. Regulation of Food and Beverage Marketing to Latino Youths. Salud America!, August 2013. Accessed at http://salud-america.org/sites/salud-america/files/Healthier-Marketing-Research-Review.pdf.