Front-of-package (FOP) marketing strategies of a wide variety of beverages were catalogued to examine the prevalence of each strategy prior to a sweeping Chilean restriction of child-directed marketing aimed at reducing obesity-related disease among Chile’s youth.
Photographs of 1005 beverage packages were quantitatively content-analysed to code whether a variety of child-directed, health-oriented and other marketing strategies (e.g. sales promotions) were present on each product’s FOP. Strategies were then analysed based on beverages’ product category, total sugar, energy and tax status (beverages with added sugars are taxed at different rates).
Photographs were taken in six urban supermarkets in Santiago, Chile, representing five different supermarket chains.
Beverages using child-directed characters or nature/fruit references were higher in total sugar and beverages with child-directed characters or childhood/family references were higher in energy than beverages without these respective strategies. Of the beverages taxed at the highest rate (greatest amount of added sugars), 49 % used nutrition and health appeals and 80 % used nature or fruit appeals. Plain waters and plain milks were less likely than other selected product categories to use health-oriented appeals or multiple FOP strategies in combination.
FOP marketing on beverages varied according to the nutritional quality of the product, with heavier use of health-oriented and child-directed strategies in less healthy products. Marketing activities warrant continued observation to evaluate how industry responds to new marketing restrictions as these restrictions are evaluated in the light of existing taxes and other regulatory efforts to improve diets and reduce obesity-related disease.