Retail advertising of healthy food choices-does income segmentation matter?
There is consensus that fresh fruits and vegetables are an important element of healthy food choices; yet the majority of Canadians do not consume the required 5 to 10 servings per day, with low-income households consuming less than high-income households. Further, since the retail banners of the three dominating supermarket chains account for roughly half of all food retail sales in Canada, the impact of their advertising on consumer choice can be assumed significant. The objective of the study is thus to determine whether retailers' advertising intensities for fresh fruits and vegetables reflect these differences in consumption between income segments. The analysis compares advertising intensities for fresh fruits and vegetables in print flyers between four retail banners in Guelph, Ontario; two catering to lower-income, two catering to higher income households. The content of each food ad in 49 weeks of flyers was coded for size, in-flyer position and specific messages and then condensed into weekly indices of advertising intensities of general attention by count or size; price promotions by count and Ontario origin by count. Opposite to expectations, retail banners catering to low-income households were found to advertise fresh fruits and vegetables more intensely than high-income catering banners did. Also in contrast to expectations, no significant differences in the use of claims of Ontario origin or the Foodland Ontario logo were found between retail banners.