Target marketing

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.

More resources


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

2. Germond C, Ramirez A, Gallion KJ. Regulation of Food and Beverage Marketing to Latino Youths. Salud America!, August 2013. Accessed at