Branding Vegetables So Kids Will Eat Them
Would George H. W. Bush have liked broccoli if his mother referred to it as "Power Bunch Broccoli" instead of just plain (hold your nose) broccoli? Research from Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab says he would.
Brian Wansink and others had already concluded in previous research that people perceive food more positively when it has a 'fancy' name, rather than a plain or non-descriptive name. (Wansink et al, 2005) This time Wansink and other Cornell researchers tested that theory on kids and precisely the foods kids seem to hate: vegetables.
First, the team tested the effect of positive branding on kids in their choice of one vegetable: carrots. For three days, in 5 school lunch rooms in economically diverse areas, cooked carrots were served. On days one and three, no descriptive labels were placed on the carrot area, but on day two, the carrots were labeled, 'Food of the Day' or 'X-Ray vision carrots."
Perhaps you've guessed that the 'X-ray vision carrots' won the carrot-eating contest. Sixty-six percent of the students chose the 'X-ray vision carrots', while 32 percent ordered the 'Food of the Day; 35 percent ate the carrots without a sign on days one and three.
Expanding the 'jazzy' descriptions to other vegetables, the same researchers explored the effects of re-naming carrots, broccoli, and string beans in two New York City schools. For two months the number of students choosing each vegetable was tracked. In one school, however, the veggies were labeled 'X-ray vision carrots,' 'Power Punch Broccoli,' and 'Silly Dilly Green Beans."
You guessed it again, but maybe you underestimated the effect of this round of vegetable branding. In this study, the experimental school students made 99 percent more vegetable purchases than they did the prior month! In the control school, where no branding changes were made during the second month, vegetable purchases went down by 16 percent.
The authors emphasized that appealing descriptive branding had a positive effect on purchases in all age groups tested.
Well, President Bush, would you like to try some Power Punch Broccoli?