Health is an important issue in life and the quality of life is also crucial if we are to live a long and fruitful period on this earth. With so many millions dying of hunger each year, the issue of junk food and fast food comes into the equation and this means that such food only causes harm and accentuates health problems for those who become addicted to it. Soft drinks are also a problem as these are intrinsically unhealthy and also cause problems such as obesity which is one of the prime movers regarding heart disease. It is also important to note that heart disease is amongst the major killers in today’s society; actually the rate of deaths linked to heart disease is even more than that associated with cancer. So with soft drinks and fast food associated with so many negative effects, the question has to be asked, would taxation on such products at a higher level deter those who wish to purchase them as a safety measure?
The fast food industry is an aggressive one and has its roots firmly ingrained in today’s society. Brand names such as KFC, McDonalds and Burger King have entered into the national consciousness and it is thus very difficult to prise them away from the population’s mind set regarding food and meal purchases. Aggressive advertising campaigns have shown that the general public is attracted to fast food meals as these are deemed to be cool and offer the opportunity to hang out with friends and family in a relaxed and chic environment. Thus it is debatable to argue whether taxing this type of food at higher levels would bring about a reduction in its purchase however it would certainly serve as a deterrent. Usually those who purchase fast food are either those from the poorer section of the population or alternatively those who have no time for home cooking and are constantly on the move such as younger business and technology executives who will have much more money to spend (Barker, Helen M. 2002). . Thus higher taxation on such products will not intrinsically affect this section of the population although it could affect the former.
Pros and cons
An interesting case study would be that of the New Zealand fast food market. Although the fast food market globally has taken a huge hit in recent years, the one in New Zealand has flourished due to the fact that it is largely self-sufficient and taxation on it is very low. The New Zealand economy is one which is centred on services and high tech industry so it was barely affected by the international recession. The food market is thus very well protected and was intrinsically unaffected by world events so one has to make the counterargument here that increased taxation would not really affect the purchase of fast food items.
The vast New Zealand fast food merchant Five Guys rely on word of mouth tactics in their advertising which is quite minimal to say the least. They use celebrity visits to boost their image as well as simplistic food menus and decor which burden them with minimal cost and thus give them an advantage over competition. Yet again this has to be seen as a success story and even if taxation were to be increased on such Five Guys products, the effects would be minimal.
Instead of taxing the product, if I were a health authority I would continue to make an emphasis on the product and that healthy and natural food is a far better option than the fast food machine. Agressive marketing campaigns can also help and a direct drive to the heart of Five Guys territory is also important to assess the future of the brand’s competitive edge. Still an element of higher taxation would perhaps enable customers to switch to other more healthier methods of eating and the cost would definitely serve as a deterrent
The figures are obviously important as they demonstrate the customer’s propensity to eat out less due to the recession. This enables the marketing manager to assess the strong points of the product and how these can be demosntrated as attarctive for those who are on a tight budget but still want to eat out.
As demonstrated in the Five Guys case, no marketing can work quite well if you rely on word of mouth and come up with innovative strategies on how to attract customers. The long term success of this strategy is debatable however as even if something goes wrong, reaction in the press is important as the media is hugely powerful and can wreck a product or brand name overnight.
It has been proven time and time again that fast food and soft drinks are bad for health and nutritional data has shown that it is important to have a balanced and healthy diet if you want to enjoy a better quality of life. Taxation on fast foods and soft drinks could be the short term solution in the long run however subtle marketing techniques may eventually wean away those who strat thinking with their minds before making impulsive purchase for their food.
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