Digital Food Marketing Research: Global Trends

Mimi Tatlow-Golden, PhD

As global food and beverage companies continue to target children and teens through social media, gaming platforms, and mobile apps, researchers around the world have struggled to develop effective methods for monitoring exposure and documenting the impact these powerful new marketing techniques. CDD’s report, “Digital Food Marketing Research: Global Trends,” which was written by Dr. Mimi Tatlow-Golden at London’s Open University, provides an overview of promising new studies by a handful of international scholars, who are building a body of research on the nature, scope, and influence of contemporary digital food and beverage marketing on young people.  Researchers have developed innovative tools and methods – such as eye-tracking glasses, “digital ethnography,” and video conferencing apps – to capture the various ways that young people are encountering marketing of fast foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, and other products harmful to their health as they navigate the digital landscape. Lab experiments, online randomized trials, and other scientific investigations show how digital food marketing influences the food and brand attitudes, preferences, and requests, as well as eating behaviors and norms of children and teens. The report also highlights major gaps in the research. For example, very few studies have examined the impact of digital marketing on different income and ethnicity groups. And while there is a preponderance of studies coming from wealthy countries, there is a severe lack of research in lower and middle-income countries, even as digital marketing in these regions is actively developing. Read the report here.