Food Tastes Better When Branded “McDonalds”

By Eric Goldman

Recently I blogged on a study showing that consumers like search results more when they are branded as coming from Google, even if the search results are substantively identical. We now have a similar study, this time showing that kids think food tastes better when it’s branded as coming from McDonald’s–even McDonalds’ branded carrots are easier to get down the hatch. It’s a powerful reminder of (1) the power of brands generally, (2) the power of brands to construct meaning, and (3) the extra susceptibility of kids to branding.

We had our own recent first-hand experience with the power of brands over kids. We normally don’t shop in the “traditional” grocery stores like Safeway; the vast bulk of our grocery dollars go to Trader Joe’s or the farmers’ markets. However, on a recent vacation, we stopped into a traditional grocery store (the Save Mart in Angels Camp), and my 2 year old daughter Dina went absolutely bonkers. She’s a fan of Dora the Explorer, and it turns out that there are an amazing number of Dora-branded products available in the traditional grocery store–we as parents had blissfully ignored these products, but they shone like bright beacons to our otherwise unexposed/inexperienced daughter. Through some disciplined parenting, we escaped with a single Dora-branded pack of yogurt…and a vow never to go back to traditional groceries!