Junk meals manufacturers are encouraging TikTok customers to market their merchandise for them, in keeping with a brand new report.
Well being meals consultants say that, given the video internet hosting service’s reputation with kids, insurance policies are wanted to guard them.
Researchers discovered that unhealthy food and drinks manufacturers are encouraging TikTok customers to market their merchandise for them – successfully turning them into “model ambassadors” -as nicely as utilizing their very own accounts for promotional exercise.
They assessed video content material posted on the social media platform. Their findings have been printed by BMJ International Well being.
The researchers stated that kids are uncovered to a “huge quantity” of unhealthy — excessive in salt, sugar, and fats — meals advertising and marketing on-line.
And the proof exhibits that such publicity in the end influences meals preferences, shopping for, requests and consumption.
TikTok customers create, publish, watch and interact with quick movies. Since its international launch, TikTok’s reputation has quickly elevated: its international month-to-month lively customers reportedly rose from 55 million in January 2018 to 1 billion in September 2021.
It is extremely fashionable with kids: Greater than a 3rd of its each day customers within the U.S. are reportedly 14 or youthful.
Nevertheless, no research so far has seemed on the influence of unhealthy meals advertising and marketing on TikTok, regardless of requires consideration to be paid to the well being implications of the platform.
The researchers assessed the content material of all movies posted on the accounts of 16 main meals and non-alcoholic drink manufacturers, based mostly on international model share.
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.
A complete of 539 movies had been posted on the 16 included accounts, with 3 p.c posted in 2019, 37 p.c in 2020, and 60 p.c within the first six 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 acquired a median of 63,400 views, 5,829 likes, 157 feedback and 36 shares per video.
The most typical advertising and marketing methods have been branding (87 p.c of movies), product photos (85 p.c), engagement (31 p.c), and celebrities/influencers (25 p.c).
Engagement included the instigation of branded hashtag challenges that inspired creation of user-generated content material that includes manufacturers’ merchandise, movies, and/or branded results, akin to stickers, filters, or particular results that includes branding.
The overall 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 p.c featured branding, 68 p.c product photos, and 41 p.c branded results.
Most portrayed a optimistic (73 p.c) or impartial/unclear (25 p.c) sentiment, with solely three per cent portraying a adverse sentiment.
“Model exercise has quickly elevated – with most movies posted within the six 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,” stated research co-author Dr. Kathryn Backholer.
“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’.”
She stated that whereas fewer movies have been posted by customers who appear to have been paid – akin to influencers, these attracted practically 10 instances as many likes per video, on common, as these seemingly not paid for, and are due to this fact probably essential in propagating branded hashtag challenges.
Backholer, of the International Weight problems Middle at Deakin College in Australia, stated: “The substantial attain of influencer advertising and marketing is regarding provided that publicity to influencer advertising and marketing of unhealthy meals has been proven to extend vitality consumption – from unhealthy meals and total.”
The analysis workforce highlighted that proposed U.Ok. laws will ban all “paid-for” on-line advertising and marketing of “much less wholesome food and drinks” starting in January of subsequent yr.
But it surely contains an exemption for brand-only promoting, and excludes advertising and marketing originating outdoors the U.Ok., even if social networking platforms often function throughout worldwide borders.
Backholer added: “Our research has proven that TikTok is an rising supply of unhealthy meals advertising and marketing, together with that created by customers on the instigation of manufacturers.
“Given TikTok’s reputation amongst kids, our findings assist the necessity for insurance policies that shield kids from the dangerous influence of meals advertising and marketing, together with that on social networking platforms.
“TikTok’s rising reputation additionally requires additional analysis into its potential influence on public well being and its function as a company political actor.”
Produced in affiliation with SWNS.
This story was offered to Newsweek by Zenger Information.