Unhealthy meals and beverage manufacturers are encouraging TikTok customers to market their merchandise for them

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Unhealthy meals and beverage manufacturers are encouraging TikTok customers to market their merchandise for them—successfully turning them into “model ambassadors”—in addition to utilizing their very own accounts for promotional exercise, finds an evaluation of video content material posted on the social media platform and printed within the open entry journal BMJ World Well being.

Given TikTok’s recognition with youngsters, the findings emphasize the necessity for insurance policies that may defend them from the dangerous influence of one of these advertising on social media, insist the researchers.

Youngsters are uncovered to an enormous quantity of unhealthy meals—excessive in salt, sugar, and fats—advertising on-line, say the researchers. And the proof reveals that this publicity in the end influences meals preferences, buying, requests and consumption.

TikTok customers create, publish, watch and interact with brief movies. Since its international launch, TikTok’s recognition has quickly elevated: Its international month-to-month energetic customers reportedly rose from 55 million in January 2018 to 1 billion in September 2021.

And it’s well-liked with youngsters: Over a 3rd of its each day customers within the U.S. are reportedly aged 14 or youthful.

But no research up to now has regarded on the influence of unhealthy meals advertising on TikTok, regardless of requires consideration to be paid to the well being implications of the platform, say the researchers.

In a bid to plug this information hole, the researchers assessed the content material of all movies posted on the accounts of 16 main meals and non-alcoholic beverage manufacturers—primarily based on international model share as of 30 June 2021.

The content material and sentiment of a pattern of related user-generated content material, created in response to branded hashtag challenges instigated by these manufacturers, was additionally assessed.

Some 539 movies had been posted on the 16 included accounts, with 3% (17) posted in 2019 (earliest yr of posting), 37% (198) in 2020, and 60% (324) within the first 6 months of 2021. 4 accounts had not posted any movies.

The variety of followers of the included accounts ranged from 14 to 1.6 million. Movies obtained a mean of 63,400 views, 5829 likes, 157 feedback and 36 shares per video.

The most typical advertising methods have been branding (87% of movies), product photographs (85%), engagement (31%), and celebrities/ influencers (25%).

Engagement included instigation of branded hashtag challenges that inspired creation of user-generated content material that includes manufacturers’ merchandise, movies, and/or branded results, equivalent to stickers, filters, or particular results that includes branding.

The whole collective views of user-generated content material from single challenges ranged from 12.7 million to 107.9 billion. Amongst a pattern of 626 brand-relevant movies generated in response to those challenges, 96% featured branding, 68% product photographs, and 41% branded results.

Most portrayed a optimistic (73%) or impartial/unclear (25%) sentiment, with few portraying a damaging (3%) sentiment.

That is an observational research, so it may’t set up causality. The researchers acknowledge that the sampled user-generated content material might not have been consultant of a branded hashtag problem, nor have been they capable of measure youngsters’s publicity to manufacturers’ promotional actions or to user-generated content material.

However they word, “Model exercise has quickly elevated—with most movies posted within the 6 months previous knowledge assortment—and contains instigation of branded hashtag challenges that encourage user-generated content material that includes model merchandise, brand-supplied movies or branded results.

“Evaluation of a pattern of brand-relevant user-generated content material created in response to those confirmed that branded hashtag challenges are successfully turning customers into, in TikTok’s phrases, ‘unofficial model ambassadors.'”

Whereas fewer movies have been posted by customers who appear to have been paid (influencers, for instance), these attracted practically 10 occasions as many likes per video, on common, as these seemingly not paid for, and are due to this fact possible necessary in propagating branded hashtag challenges, they level out.

“The substantial attain of influencer advertising is regarding provided that publicity to influencer advertising of unhealthy meals has been proven to extend power consumption (from unhealthy meals and total),” they write.

In addition they spotlight that proposed UK laws will ban all “paid-for” on-line advertising of “much less wholesome food and drinks” from January 2023. But it surely contains an exemption for brand-only promoting, and excludes advertising originating outdoors the UK, even though social networking platforms continuously function throughout worldwide borders.

They conclude, “Our research has proven that TikTok is an rising supply of unhealthy meals advertising, together with that created by customers on the instigation of manufacturers. Given TikTok’s recognition amongst youngsters, our findings assist the necessity for insurance policies that defend youngsters from the dangerous influence of meals advertising, together with that on social networking platforms.

“TikTok’s rising recognition additionally requires additional analysis into its potential influence on public well being and its function as a company political actor.”


Three-quarters of influencers’ social media posts about meals and drinks are for unhealthy merchandise


Extra info:
Turning customers into ‘unofficial model ambassadors’: advertising of unhealthy meals and non-alcoholic drinks on TikTok, BMJ World Well being (2022). DOI: 10.1136/bmjgh-2022-009112

Offered by
British Medical Journal


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Unhealthy meals and beverage manufacturers are encouraging TikTok customers to market their merchandise for them (2022, July 25)
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