An initiative sponsored by the Association pour la santé publique du Québec

Follow Us
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter RSS
Follow Us
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter RSS

Translation of this website has been made possible through financial support from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and Health Canada.

The views expressed herein represent the views of the Weight Coalition and do not necessarily represent the views of the project funders.


Food-processing Marketing


Food-processing marketing can take many forms, be it advertising to children, sports sponsorships or product packaging itself. We are continuously exposed to advertising of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or salt, especially children.

In fact, the food industry is working hard to promote its products. As for sugary and energy drinks companies, they are constantly looking for new drinks to appeal to all consumer segments, distribute them in many points of sale and use a wide range of aggressive techniques.

The 4 Ps of marketing = product, price, placement (in the sense of distribution) and promotion 

Product: something for everyone

Water, sugar or substitutes, and, at times, natural or synthetic caffeine are essentially what goes into making sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). 

In order to conquer new markets, the industry bets on a so much broader variety of products that the supply of SSBs today is enormous.

By targeting each sliver of the market and broadening product lines, companies seek to stand out from the field. There is a SSB for each type of consumer.

To learn more, see the full report on the product.

Price: a decisive element

Since the price is a key factor in the purchasing process, strategies used by the soft drinks industry ensure accessibility of its products and generate purchase:

  • for young people, price constitutes the second most important determinant (after food preferences) of food consumption;1,2,3
  • 65% à 80% of purchase decisions are made on sales places.4  A low price may well stimulate impulse buying;
  • a 10% increase in the price of soft drinks could reduce consumption by 8 to 10%.5

Industry strategies:

  • pricing policy by beverage category;
  • ubiquitous discount;
  • bulk purchasing encouraged;
  • discount associations with fast food.

To learn more, see the full report on pricing.

Placement: betting on availability
Sugary drinks are ubiquitous in grocery stores, convenience stores, vending machines, gas stations, restaurants, theaters, arenas, sports centers, schools, universities, hospitals, pharmacies, railway stations, parks, etc. The environment significantly influences our dietary decisions and the more the food is visible, the more likely it is to be "chosen":
  • wide distribution in many sales points;
  • strategic positioning: rows devoted to sugary drinks, aisle ends, refrigerator near the cash, etc.;
  • advertisements at points of sale: posters, flyers put on the shelves, stickers on shop windows, displays, promotional material, etc.

To learn more, see the full report on placement.

Promotion: key to success

Promotional activities of the large food-processing industry influence young people, specifically targeted by advertisers, who see them as consumers with strong purchasing power and the potential to be loyal to a brand:6,7,8

  • knowledge and attitude toward junk food;
  • preferences and eating behaviors;
  • the World Health Organization has identified the intensive marketing of high energy and low nutritional value food as a contributing factor in the obesity epidemic.9

Different media are used by the soft drinks industry to its target audiences:

  • advertising in traditional media;
  • internet (websites, social networks, e-mails);
  • mobile telephony;
  • promotional videogames (“advergames”) ;
  • cross-promotion;
  • contest;
  • product placement in TV shows, movies and video games;
  • sponsorships and philanthropic activities.

To learn more, see the full report on promotion.