Who is the Target of Fast Food Marketing?

A research study on youth-focused marketing in and around fast food eateries has concluded that such advertisement is most prevalent in middle-income and Black neighborhoods.

While fast food consumption among adults and caloric consumption among children have both declined, the study found 22 percent of fast food restaurants engaged in direct marketing to youth, most often in Black communities (31 percent) and mid-level-income areas (30 percent), followed by near-low-income areas, and White and Latino neighborhoods (all at 24 percent).  Of the eateries that aimed indoor and outdoor ads at children, 38 percent offered “kids meals”.  Other marketing findings and the larger implications for health policy are included in the December 2012  brief, Child-Directed Marketing Within and Around Fast Food Restaurants, available online at the Bridging the Gap website.

Businesses must market to their target audiences in order to be successful, but awareness of the prevalence and nature of such messaging to youth can encourage family discussions about the impact of too much unhealthy eating, and setting limits for trips to fast food restaurants.



Report Citation: Ohri-Vachaspati P, Powell LM, Rimkus LM, Isgor Z, Barker D and Chaloupka FJ. Child-Directed Marketing Within and Around FastFood Restaurants—ABTG Research Brief. Chicago, IL: Bridging the  Gap Program, Health Policy Center, Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2012.

Nonprofits Report More Social Media Activity than Small Businesses

VerticalResponse conducted a survey of nonprofits and small businesses on their use of social media as part of their marketing and outreach efforts.   The responses indicate that more investment, in both time and resources, is being spent on social media than in prior years, but that there are challenges to keeping pace with the immediacy of mobile communications.   Findings include,

  • 40 percent of respondents spend 6 or more hours a week on social media tasks, with 61 percent reporting that they are spending more time on it than they did last year
  • 80 percent of nonprofits surveyed reported posting on Facebook more than once a week
  • 2.5 percent of respondents reported a decrease in their social media budgets, while 10 percent reported an increase
  • Content curation was the top challenge for both nonprofits and small businesses


Survey results are displayed and discussed at the VerticalReponse blog.

Amenities Over Academics – The Market has Spoken

The topic of college costs is back in the news as demands for increased accountability and transparency are once again catching momentum in Washington and beyond.  While the value of a college education may not be adequately measured by economic formula alone, the combination of sticker shock and a slow economy could result in a more cautious, or arduous, decision-making process for families.  With the average cost for one year of tuition and fees at a private 4-year university now costing over three times what it did my salad days, researching what you get for your considerable investment is understandable, if not expected, in 2013. The twist is that the actual draw for students may not be at all related to academics.

Beth Akers of the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings Institution asks some interesting questions around increased non-instruction spending in higher education in relation to the rising costs of tuition, board and fees for students in two and four-year institutions.  While discussions of  the value and accessibility of a college education (without having to take on $50,000+ in loans) may appeal to most with teenage children, Ms. Akers notes that a recently released paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the realities of market demand show that but for the the top tier of students, amenities greatly overshadow academics.  Data from the 1990’s through 2004 indicate that students not headed to high-level academic institutions are swayed by and, more importantly, will pay for nicer dorms, gyms and activity centers.

So, the best way to attract the majority of college-bound youth is with a wide range of recreational offerings and top of the line facilities in which to house them.  Colleges know this and it would be counter-intuitive for them to stop giving prospective students exactly what they want.  My question — what, if any, impact will the recession have on this trend? A study from The Higher Education Research Institute reports that over 2/3rds of freshman entering a college or university in 2012 were significantly influenced by the current economic climate, and nearly 60 percent were not attending their first-choice due to affordability concerns.  Further, the impact of the cost of a particular institution on student decision-making was ranked as “very important” by approximately 43 percent of incoming freshmen last year, up from 31 percent in 2004.  Is the market changing?

What are your predictions for college recruitment and marketing over the next 10 years? 

Still Scared of Social Media?



From Noise to Signal   (embed code wasn’t taking – here is the link to the original)


What is it about transparency that sounds so great in theory and gets all the heads nodding in strategy sessions but can make a nonprofit executive break out into a cold sweat as the launch or go-live date nears?  Is your social media presence suffering because of fear – fear of challenge,  of embarrassment, of attracting your very own internet troll?

Colleen Dilenschneider at the Know Your Own Bone blog soothes some of the anxiety felt by nonprofits around fully engaging in social media and adopting an open communications style with data and real-life examples in her post Trust your Audience: Data Debunks Nonprofit Social Media Fears.  When you hide your organization from online interactions you lose the ability to receive and discuss feedback,  build a reputation as an expert in your service area, and connect with those for whom social media is a primary source of information.

How did your organization face its fear of transparency, or has it?