Publication

Marketing strategies used within premises by out of home businesses

Summary

This report provides evidence on marketing strategies used within premises of a small sample of branded out of home businesses in Scotland.  The research used mystery shoppers to collect an overview of these marketing strategies, as well as identifying the types of products being marketed. The research aimed to gather information on any strategies which may encourage consumers to purchase products, including larger sizes or additional items than what they had originally intended.

Key findings include:

  • The most common strategies were price promotions (particularly multi-buys and the prominent advertising of low prices), the prominent placement of items near the till and meal deals.
  • Overall, the promotion of products by celebrities or associations with TV, films and games was rare though it was common in Quick Service Burger/Chicken outlets to offer a set of children’s toys with a film tie-in to collect. Free samples were also rare.
  • There was little evidence of staff actively encouraging customers to choose larger sizes through verbal ‘upsizing’.
  • However, ‘upselling’ to encourage customers to buy additional items was more common, with multi-buy promotions and meal deals being prominent throughout the outlets visited.
  • Most of the common marketing strategies (product placement, price promotions and general promotions) were on less healthy products. However, healthier items (particularly water) were largely available within meal deals and especially children’s meal deals.
  • The placement of items near the till point was common, with 68% of outlets using this type of strategy. Cakes, biscuits, confectionery or other sweet products were the most commonly promoted in this way and were displayed near the till point at half of the outlets visited (48%).
  • Overall, calorie labelling was unavailable at 40% of the outlets visited. However, this varied by outlet type. For example, it was available in 75% of the coffee outlets visited versus 46% of the retail cafes visited.

The research highlights a number of practices in place which make the out of home environment challenging for consumers to make healthier choices.

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