The rate of overweight and obesity preference among Australian children is alarming. The rates of childhood obesity in the country become one of the highest among the developed nations. We have also seen a large increase in the number of overweight and obese children in the country.
The number of overweight and obese children has increased to 25% in 2002from 5% in the 1960. This phenomenon has been blamed on fast food by nutritionists due to their high level of calories, presence of trans fats, added sugar, lack of fibre and processed carbohydrates. One of the most blamed fast food marketer is McDonalds Australia for using advertising methods that cultivate emotional identification with their image. Societal marketing concept can be used to influence children to eat healthier diets in several ways.
Societal marketing is a concept that McDonalds and other fast food manufacturers can use to promote healthy diets among children. This calls for societal welfare and ethical considerations in marketing strategies and practices. One way that MacDonald can implement healthier eating habits in children is by changing their branding of food products that target children to healthier components.
These new brands should incorporate healthy food items such as carrots, milk and other food items with less sugar, fats and processed carbohydrates. This change of branding of foods and incorporating healthy product offerings and making them ‘cool’ will influence children to eat healthier foods.
Another way of ensuring societal marketing practices by food manufacturers is by eliminating the advertisements of unhealthy food products during children’s television viewing times. Without the influence of the manipulative and misleading advertisements of these products, children will be less affected by them as researchers in this article suggest.
MacDonald’s and other food marketers could introduce a healthier restaurant and store experiences for children where meal choices in their menu are accompanied by items such as salads, fruits and other foods rich in fiber. In addition to these accompaniments meals should be served in an attractive and fun environment for children.
Parents and other interested groups have a responsibility in ensuring that societal marketing is done as claimed by the food marketers and that those that are not doing so are pressured to adopt better promotion of food products. This can be done through forming pressure groups that actively tracks the promotions, endorsing the healthier practices and castigating those that are not.
More consumers and parents should join Parents Jury in Australia where they can add their vote on the marketers. In addition to these efforts, such pressure groups should actively carry out consumer education across all age groups so that consumers are well informed on what to expect from the marketers.
The future trend of fast food industry in Australia
Societal expectations of corporations are changing rapidly and business decision makers are left overwhelmed by them. These expectations extend to all business decisions including production, marketing, packaging, branding, distribution and service among others.
Businesses are expected to take care of the environment in totality, be it physical, social or economic environment in which their businesses touch. All these issues are managed by companies through social marketing, which I believe fast food industry is going to adopt in the future.
Fast food industries are going to adopt brands and product offerings that are healthier across all consumer age groups each targeted to meet a particular need in the target market. This is due to the increased awareness of health issues in the country. This will also be triggered by research findings such as the article in the case study about obesity and overweight problems among children in the country.
The fast food industry will also begin to adopt environmentally sensitive practices in their businesses such as waste reduction. This is where the use-and-dispose practices will be replaced by use of lighter weight paper in straws, paper bags, paper cups and sandwich boxes. Use of recycled paper and cardboard packaging will be adopted widely.
MacDonald’s, for example, was the biggest use of plastic manufactured from polystyrene that contains CFCs, but it changed to those that are blown from hydrocarbon agents and committed a budget of $100 million to buy recycled products for restaurant construction, remodeling and other operations in a program they referred to as McRecycle.
A change in the way promotion of fast food products is done is something that is expected to change. With consumers forming organizations to monitor the way these products are advertised in the media, companies will adopt new strategies such as green marketing, healthy marketing and other based on environments that encourage children to eat healthy food. This will see advertisements on television that target a particular viewing group rather than random ones.
Other companies may come up with promotions that are based on environmental considerations such as in managing waste through reducing, reuse and recycle concepts. it is possible also, that after a report such as this, advertisements and promotional activities based on ‘low fat’, ‘low sugar’ or even ’healthy fats’ and ‘high fiber’ products are things we are going to witnesses more and more.