Sugary Drinks Research: Marketing


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This is part of our Sugary Drinks & Latino Kids: A Research Review »

Latino kids have rates of media exposure

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages TV watching among all children younger than 2.46

In 2014, a randomized obesity prevention trial investigated racial/ethnic trends in infant feeding and activity behaviors and their relation to future obesity risk among 863 parents (50% Latino) of 2-month-old infants.47

According to study investigators, parental adherence to the AAP’s TV-watching recommendation was low.48

Nearly 50 percent of all parents reported active TV-watching among their infants, with over 90 percent reporting that infants had exposure to TV throughout the day.47

For Latinos, 41 percent of infants took part in active TV watching for more than 25 minutes per day, with a mean daily TV exposure time of 228 minutes (or 3.8 hours). These findings indicate that by the age of 2 months, behaviors promoting sedentary behavior are already prevalent among Latino infants and their parents.47

Additional studies demonstrate that high rates of media exposures also exists among older Latino children (although this age group is not the focus on this review).

Data show that Latino youth ages 8-18 have higher overall levels of total media exposure (including TV, music/audio, computer, video games, print, and movies) in a typical day than do their white counterparts – 13 hours for Latino youths compared with 8.36 hours for white youths.48

A large portion of this increased media exposure comes from watching more TV.

Latino youths watch an average of 5.21 hours of TV per day, as compared to the 3.36 hours watched by white youths. Further, Latino youths are more likely to have a TV in their bedroom than white youth (77% versus 64%).

Advertising influences Latino children’s food preferences

Evidence has shown that TV advertising influences young children’s food preferences, short-term food consumption, and caloric intake.49–51

Further, studies have documented an association between increased media exposure and childhood obesity in the Latino community52,53

In one study of sixth- and seventh-graders in Santa Barbara County, Calif., TV viewing and soft drink consumption were associated with obesity, and Latino students watched more TV each evening (2.4 hours per night) and drank more soft drinks (1.6 per day) than non-Hispanic White (1.3 hours and 1.1 drinks per day) or Asian (1.3 hours and 0.7 drinks per day) students.54

Marketers target food and drink products to minority children

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimated that in 2009, 48 major food and beverage companies spent a total of $1.79 billion to market their products to children.

While total spending was down by nearly 20 percent from 2006 to 2009, spending on new media (including online, mobile and viral marketing) rose by 50 percent, to $122.5 million, during this period.55 In a comparison of 2006 and 2009 data, the FTC evaluated industry progress towards promoting healthier food choices to youths.55

Findings were mixed; for example, drinks marketed to children and teens were slightly lower in calories in 2009 than in 2006, but still averaged more than 20 grams of added sugar per serving.

One study found that between 2003 and 2009, exposure to televised beverage advertising for children ages 2-5 fell by more than 40 percent, and that fewer than two-thirds of the beverage ads seen by children were for products that were high in sugar.56

A more recent analysis of 2009 TV advertising data showed that 52 percent of beverage ads seen by children ages 2-5 were for beverages high in sugar.56 However, when examining ads shown specifically during children’s programming (i.e., with 35% or greater child-audience share), 74 percent of beverage ads seen by 2-5-year-olds were for beverages high in sugar.56

In addition to having higher exposure to TV advertising, minority youths are also heavier consumers of new media than are White youths, with Latino youths spending more than twice as much time using new media than White youths.48

In a recent study, Latino youth were 93 percent more likely to visit 20 top beverage company websites compared with all youth.57 For example, Latino youth were about six times more likely to visit and compared to all youth.57

Marketers increasing target Latino kids with sugary drink ads

Given the growing purchasing power and heavy media consumption of the U.S. Latino population, marketers are investing significant resources to understand the Latino youth market so as to better appeal to this group.58

One market research report, for example, summarizes its key finding as follows: “Both the number of Hispanics in the United States and their purchasing power are growing rapidly. With 51 million people in 2011, and purchasing power projected to reach more than $1.48 trillion by 2015, Hispanics are a key consumer group for non-alcoholic beverage companies to court.”59

Sugary drink ads are rising on Spanish-language TV

In 2013, seven companies spent $83 million to advertise sugary drinks and energy shots on Spanish-language TV, an increase of 44 percent compared to 2010.

By contrast, companies spent $9 million to advertise diet drinks, 100 percent juice, and water.60 According to one analysis of Nielsen data, Latino preschoolers, children, and teens saw 33, 49 and 99 percent more advertising, respectively, for sugary drinks and energy drinks on Spanish-language TV in 2010 than they did in 2008.

In 2013, Latino preschoolers and children saw 23 and 32 percent more sugary drink ads, respectively, on Spanish-language TV than they did in 2010.60

Furthermore, Latino preschoolers saw more ads for Coca-Cola Classic, Kool-Aid, 7UP, and Sunny D than did Latino older children and teens.60

Various studies suggest that exposure to such targeted advertising (i.e., Spanish-language marketing) may be more effective in influencing Latino youths than exposure to non-targeted advertising.58,61

For example, among bilingual Latinos, recall is greater for advertisements that are aired in Spanish compared to ads that are aired in English.61,62 In addition to targeting Latinos via Spanish-language TV, SSB commercials and marketing initiatives often use soccer athletes, Latino music celebrities, and other culturally nuanced aspects that appeal to young Latinos.57

Marketers aren’t just using TV to target Latino kids

Outside of sugary drink marketing on traditional TV and new media, other forms of marketing exist in communities to build familiarity with and loyalty to brands.

One observational study conducted in Austin, Los Angeles, New York City, and Philadelphia found that low-income Latino neighborhoods had up to nine times the density of outdoor advertising of sugary beverages, fast food, and other high-calorie/low-nutrient products compared to high-income white neighborhoods.63

This difference persisted even in high-income Latino neighborhoods, where the density of such ads was still nearly three times higher than in high-income white neighborhoods.

Finally, food and beverage marketers have become an important source of funding for community organizations.64,65

This is particularly true of soft drink companies and the Latino community.

For example, in 2012, PepsiCo donated $100,000 to the National Association for Hispanic Journalists and the Coca-Cola Company donated funding to the American Diabetes Association for education outreach specifically to the Latino community.66,67

Local Latino events and causes are also frequently supported by sugary drink brands and are promoted on local Spanish-language TV.57

The “do good for the community” attitude suggests that sponsorships and support for ethnic minority cultural institutions may have significant influencing powers.68

Indeed, today many Latinos and African-Americans see marketing to their communities as evidence that companies value their business, which many people in these communities believe was not previously the case.58

More from our Sugary Drinks & Latino Kids: A Research Review »

References for this section »

46. Brown, A. Media Use by Children Younger Than 2 Years. Pediatrics 128, 1040–1045 (2011).

47. Perrin, E. M. et al. Racial and Ethnic Differences Associated With Feeding- and Activity-Related Behaviors in Infants. Pediatrics peds.2013-1326 (2014). doi:10.1542/peds.2013-1326

48. Rideout, V., Lauricella, A. & Wartella, E. Children, media, and race: Media use among White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian American children. (Center on Media and Human Development School of Communication Northwestern University, 2011).

49. Borzekowski, D. L. G. & Robinson, T. N. The 30-Second Effect: An Experiment Revealing the Impact of Television Commercials on Food Preferences of Preschoolers. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 101, 42–46 (2001).

50. Youth, C. on F. M. and the D. of C. and, Board, F. and N., Families, B. on C., Youth, and & Medicine, I. of. Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity? (National Academies Press, 2006).

51. Halford, J. C. G., Boyland, E. J., Hughes, G., Oliveira, L. P. & Dovey, T. M. Beyond-brand effect of television (TV) food advertisements/commercials on caloric intake and food choice of 5–7-year-old children. Appetite 49, 263–267 (2007).

52. Thompson, D. A., Sibinga, E. M. S., Jennings, J. M., Bair-Merritt, M. H. & Christakis, D. A. Television viewing by young Hispanic children: evidence of heterogeneity. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 164, 174–179 (2010).

53. Rosas, L. G. et al. Factors Associated with Overweight and Obesity among Children of Mexican Descent: Results of a Binational Study. 169–180 (2011).

54. Giammattei J, Blix G, Marshak H, Wollitzer A & Pettitt DJ. Television watching and soft drink consumption: Associations with obesity in 11- to 13-year-old schoolchildren. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 157, 882–886 (2003).

55. Federal Trade Commission. Review of Food Marketing to Children and Adolescents — Follow-Up Report | Federal Trade Commission. Available at: (Accessed: 23rd August 2016)

56. Powell, L. M., Schermbeck, R. M. & Chaloupka, F. J. Nutritional Content of Food and Beverage Products in Television Advertisements Seen on Children’s Programming. Childhood Obesity 9, 524–531 (2013).

57. Harris, J. et al. Sugary Drink FACTS 2012: Evaluating Sugary Drink Nutrition and Marketing to Youth. (2012).

58. Grier, S. A. & Kumanyika, S. Targeted Marketing and Public Health. Annual Review of Public Health 31, 349–369 (2010).

59. Mintel International Group, Ltd. Hispanics and Non-alcohol Drinks – US. Available at: (Accessed: 23rd August 2016)

60. Harris, J. & Schwartz, M. B. Sugary Drink FACTS 2014: Sugary drink marketing to youth: Some progress buut mucfh room to improve.

61. The Nielsen Company. State of the Hispanic Consumer: The Hispanic Market Imperative. (Nielsen, 2012).

62. Pardo, C. & Dreas, C. Three Things You Thought You Knew About U.S. Hispanic’s Engagement with Media… And Why You May Have Been Wrong. (2011). Available at: (Accessed: 23rd August 2016)

63. Yancey, A. K. et al. A Cross-Sectional Prevalence Study of Ethnically Targeted and General Audience Outdoor Obesity-Related Advertising. Milbank Q 87, 155–184 (2009).

64. Dorfman, L., Cheyne, A., Friedman, L. C., Wadud, A. & Gottlieb, M. Soda and tobacco industry corporate social responsibility campaigns: how do they compare? PLoS Med 9, e1001241 (2012).

65. Korzenny, F. & Korzenny, betty A. The Multicultural Marketing Equation: Media Attitudes, Brands, and Spending. Available at: (Accessed: 7th September 2016)

66. Quintero, F. What is PepsiCo buying with donations to communities of color? | Berkeley Media Studies Group. bmsg blog

67. Coca-Cola Announces $10.5 Million in New Grants. The Coca-Cola Company Available at: (Accessed: 7th September 2016)

By The Numbers By The Numbers



for every Latino neighborhood, compared to 3 for every non-Latino neighborhood

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