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An Examination of Product Packaging Marketing Strategies Used to Promote Pediatric Multivitamins


The purpose of this study was to describe the nature of marketing strategies for multivitamin and multimineral (MVM) supplement packaging and to assess the extent to which these supplements are marketed as food products. A cross-sectional study of children’s supplement packaging was conducted. Descriptive statistics identified common marketing practices. Websites of the three largest retail chain pharmacies in the United States and MVM manufacturers were accessed. The study’s sample consisted of packaging for 52 children’s MVM supplements. Child-targeted marketing included reference to trademarked characters on 42.3 % of MVM packaging (n = 22). More than 80 % of the sample (n = 42) listed fruity flavors and almost all packaging included descriptive words related to the MVMs’ shape and/or flavor (88.5 %, n = 46). Nearly one-fifth of the packaging (n = 10) pictured a food item. With respect to parent-targeted promotional language, almost 83 % of the supplement packages (n = 43) included text on the support of bodily structure/function. More than half of the sample (53.8 %, n = 28) had promotional language related to dietary practice (e.g. organic, gluten-free). Pediatricians can play a role in ensuring that parents are aware of (1) possible risks associated with MVM overconsumption, and (2) the importance of deriving vitamins and minerals from a balanced diet. Given the high number of exposures to pediatric MVMs among youth and established influence of food marketing on shaping children’s perceptions and behaviors, further research is necessary to determine the extent to which children’s MVMs are marketed as a food product and perceived as such by children.

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Correspondence to Danna Ethan.

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Ethan, D., Basch, C.H., Samuel, L. et al. An Examination of Product Packaging Marketing Strategies Used to Promote Pediatric Multivitamins. J Community Health 40, 564–568 (2015).

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  • Pediatric
  • Multivitamins
  • Marketing
  • Children