Growing Up In A Fast Food Nation

mcpretendingIn the latest Ypulse Monitor and Ypulse Report (see full summaries in our Research Roundup) we saw the enduring pull of young, hungry students to fast food joints, specifically those of the burger variety. Cheap, reliable and probably just off campus,  our research found nearly all (nine-out-of-10) college students and teens had gone to restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s in the past month, at a frequency of about four times a month/once a week. McDonald’s also came up as the #1 option for lunch, dinner, snacking (and increasingly even coffee!) spot for both demos. For all of the reasons stated above (price, reliability location), this trend isn’t a surprising one, but with rates of childhood and teen obesity staying at epidemic levels especially among low-income youth, it does raise some health concerns.

While “Happy Meals” and the like have undergone a healthful makeover as of late (apple “fries” instead of fries, milk instead of soda, etc.) for tweens/concerned parents, and older consumers are targeted with the contradiction in terms that is the “fast food diet,” teens and young adults get lost somewhere in between, lured instead by what’s tasty and cheap, i.e. the dollar menu-type items. While two out of three teens and college students reported going to the potentially healthier, sandwich shop chains like Subway or Quizno’s over the same period of time, the wide range of choices available still include poor picks like Quizno’s Tuna Melt, rated the number one unhealthiest sandwich of 2009. I also recalled a negative responses to the price difference of sandwich shops at the youth-hosted forum on childhood obesity I attended back in September and the “no duh” look students gave when considering the choice between a “$5 Footlong” and the wide variety of cheaper…

 
 
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Quote of the Day: “When looking for a significant other, it’s important to me that they are open minded and an independent thinker.” –Male, 15, CA

Constant internet access via smartphones helped created the issue of cyberbullying, but could it also help to end it? New app Stop!t was created by a concerned dad to make it quick, easy, and effective for kids to anonymously report any bullying incident they see on social media. Previous digital efforts to fight cyberbullying required multiple steps in order to file a report, but Stop!t will allow students to report bullying with a single click, even if the app isn’t open. The app has been tested in several schools, and seen positive results so far, with one school reporting an 80% reduction in cyberbullying incidents compared to the previous year. (Fast Company)

Snapchat has an important message for its young users: “keep your clothes on!” 53% of 13-17-year-olds use Snapchat, according to Ypulse’s most recent social media tracker survey, and the app has long battled a reputation as a sexting haven. New community guidelines recently posted by the app are serving as a gentle, but stern reminder for minors to “Keep it legal.” Team Snapchat is trying to pull in the reigns on inappropriate sharing, threats, bullying, and invasions of privacy, and violating the rules could result in content removal, suspension, or being banned from the app. (New York Daily NewsSnapchat)

Will marketing healthy foods using the same tactics as unhealthy products get young consumers to eat them? The Partnership for a Healthier American and Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign are going to find out. They’re launching an effort that rebrands fruits and vegetables as “FNV,” uses celebrities like Jessica Alba and Cam Newton as spokespeople, and relies heavily on social media to convince kids that healthy is cool. While undoubtedly a worthy cause, the campaign’s success is uncertain and has been described as “cringeworthy.” (brandchannel)

"C’mon get happy" seems to be the motto of big brands in 2015, as they focus on messages of positivity and joy to appeal to young consumers. One recent study says brands that “help Millennials achieve happiness” are the most likely to earn their loyalty. McDonald’s Pay With Lovin’, Coke’s #MakeItHappy, and Dove’s #SpeakBeautiful campaigns are recent examples of campaigns attempting to engage with positive messaging, but brands who want to follow suit should remember young consumers will see through any “hollow” attempts that tell them just buying a product will make them happier. (Adweek)

Young viewers maybe be drawn to digital video because they find online stars and content more “enjoyable and relevant to their lives” than traditional TV and Hollywood A-listers. A new study by Defy Media—who it should be noted produces content for YouTube—found that 62% of 13-24-year-olds say digital content makes them “feel good,” compared to 40% who said the same of TV; and 67% say they can relate to digital content, versus only 41% who relate to TV. YouTubers also hold a high power of purchase: 63% said they’d try a product recommended by a YouTube celebrity. (Variety)

The Daily Instant Poll gives you a quick snapshot of how Millennials are weighing in on the topics that are making headlines, but there's more to our mobile network of 2 million Millennials than what makes the newsletter. Ten of our most recent featured Instant Poll results are available to Ypulse.com Silver and Gold subscribers, allowing them to compare the responses of various demographics. (Ypulse)

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