Internet food marketing strategies aimed at children and adolescents: a content analysis of food and beverage brand web sites

J Am Diet Assoc. 2006 Sep;106(9):1463-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2006.06.014.


Americans are spending an increasing amount of time using "new media" like the Internet. There has been little research examining food and beverage Web sites' content and marketing practices, especially those that attract children and adolescents. The purpose of this study was to conduct a content analysis of food- and beverage-brand Web sites and the marketing techniques and advertising strategies present on these sites. The top five brands in eight food and beverage categories, 40 brands in total, were selected based on annual sales data from Brandweek magazine's annual "Superbrands" report. Data were collected using a standardized coding form. The results show a wide variety of Internet marketing techniques and advertising strategies targeting children and adolescents. "Advergaming" (games in which the advertised product is part of the game) was present on 63% of the Web sites. Half or more of the Web sites used cartoon characters (50%) or spokescharacters (55%), or had a specially designated children's area (58%) with a direct link from the homepage. With interactive media still in its developmental stage, there is a need to develop safeguards for children. Food and nutrition professionals need to advocate for responsible marketing techniques that will support the health of children.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Advertising
  • Child
  • Commerce
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Marketing / methods*
  • Marketing / trends*
  • Mass Media / trends*
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Psychology, Child*
  • United States