Packaging Improvement

McDonald’s Branding Makes Food Tastier for Tots

Researchers at Stanford University have found that children tend to rate food that is wrapped up in McDonald’s-branded paper as tasting better than the same food wrapped in plain paper — a finding that suggests that even the youngest consumers are heavily influenced by advertising. The new study was released Monday in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

The study had 63 children, aged 3 to 5 years old, tasting five pairs of identical foods and beverages — one in McDonald’s wrapping and the other in unbranded packaging. The researchers then asked them a simple question: “Which one tastes better?” An overwhelming number of the children said the food in the McDonald’s wrapping was tastier.

Oddly enough, this applied even to vegetables and milk. Sixty-one percent of the children in the study preferred the taste of carrots and 54 percent preferred the taste of milk if they were reminded by the packaging that it came from McDonald’s.

This is another reminder that tackling problems directly is not always the best strategy. The packaging doesn’t actually change the taste, but really it is not the taste that is likely a concern but rather the perception of taste. To me this is very similar to the studies on people preferring wine they are told costs more.

Ignore psychology at your peril: in marketing and in management. Deming’s management system include 4 interdependent areas: understanding variation, systems thinking, theory of knowledge and understanding psychology.

Effects of Fast Food Branding on Young Children’s Taste Preferences (I think this is the study referenced in the article though it was published in August 2007 – John).

Related: Indian researcher shows most people do judge a drink by its containerMarketing in a Lean CompanyThe Psychology of Too Much ChoiceBe Careful What You Measure

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