Fast Food Industry 2

Fast Food Industry :
Perspectives from Marketing and Psychology

Irma Figueroa
Professor Speiser
Writing 2
Fast Food Industry 3

America is a country that many other parts of the world look at for business and economics,

however it is also a country that others look at in shock because of the increase problem with obesity.

Fast food is part of the American culture, it is ubiquitous. Most people however, think little about how

fast food companies influence us whether by a restuarants specific location or through persuasion of an

advertisement. The fast food industry has grew immensely in the 20th century and it has become a topic

of discussion within many different fields of study. In this essay I will be analysing how the fields of

Marketing and Psychology each approach the fast food industry to fulfill the purpose of communicating

to a specific audience within their discourse communities. For analysis of the Psychology field, I will be

looking at a scholarly journal article called “ Receptivity to Television Fast-Food Restaurant Marketing

and Obesity Among U.S. Youth,” by Auden C. McClure, Susanne E. Tanski, Diane Gilbert-Diamond,

Anna M. Adachi-Mejia, Zhigang Li, Zhongze Li, and James D. Sargent. For analysis of the Marketing

field, I will be using a scholarly journal article called “ Product Positioning and Competition: The Role of

Location in Fast Food Industry,” by Raphael Thomadsen. I will also be using a course Syllabus from

Professor Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas at the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business

and personal observation from attending an Introduction to Psychology lecture taught by Professor

Tamsin German at the University of California Santa Barbara to further evaluate the way each discipline

is taught at the university level. Both disciplines have similarities and differences, yet they have

completely different purposes and we will see how each are able to construct a conversation within their


At the University Level

Psychology is the study of behavior and the mind. In observing the lecture “Introduction to

Psychology” , I noticed Professor German’s (2017) use of studies through videos and graphs as a large
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part of what the lecture consisted of. There was no interaction or engaging from the students in class. As

an introductory course however, the students probably do not have prior knowledge and therefore the

professor is authoritative. Another literary practice I noticed was specific lexis used. Some of the words

that I saw come up repetitively were: survey, categories, control group, participant, demonstration, trial,

study, patent, demonstration, research, case study and measurements. Some of these words are easy to

understand and others would definitely require more context about the class and topic itself in order to

be understood. This demonstrates how vocabulary used is key to the communication within the

discourse community because there is in fact studies, surveying, trials and research done within that field.

These specific characteristics to the discourse community create a disciplinary identity.

Marketing is a field in business that researches and studies selling, developing, and promoting

products in markets of the economy. In the syllabus, Professor Gourinchas (2015) course goal is to

build personal and corporate skills by studying the influences of goods, services, capital, rates and crisis

(p.1). The syllabus shows that the class will be 3 hours and 15 minutes long,unlike the 1 hour and 15

minute Psychology lecture. It also acknowledges that there will be oral participation and packets of

cases on real life situation problems. This class is an upper division course and it is evident that the

reason for a longer class is because there will be more interaction and expectation from the students to

participate. From the syllabus it is clear to see that some of the literary practices are based on

observations of research and current news of the economy around the world. Other literary practices

based off of the syllabus will be the use of graphs, tables, models, numbers and perhaps even maps to

look at demographic patterns around the world or specific areas. In both subject areas it is clear to see

the overlapping of literary practices, however they both have there own form of lexis, structure and

characteristics that makes each field unique.
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Two Scholarly Views

Similarly, as the two field engage at the university level owning specific characteristics, articles

do too. The difference is that the articles are often directed at a broader audience and sometimes

specific audiences such as in scholarly articles. With articles it is more clear to see the literary practices

of the Fast food Industry in action and in depth. Both of the articles I analyzed speak about the

Marketing of fast food however, the purpose of the articles are different.

In the psychology article (2013), the purpose is to analyze the way that television advertisement

can correlate with the obesity rates among youth in the United States. In the Marketing article (2007)

the purpose is to show the audience, which is stated to be marketing managers, how differentiating and

locating their product affect competition with other companies and profits in the fast food industry.

McClure et al. propose that “ Exposure to marketing of calorie-dense foods is recognized as a probable

risk factor for obesity (p.560),” meanwhile Thomadsen examines, “the relationship between product

differentiation and prices and profits in the fast food industry, (p.792)” in order to find “ the optimal

product positioning strategies (p.792).” Clearly there are two different purposes within the same topic of

fast food and marketing. Meanwhile McClure et al. (2013) want to analyze the way fast food

advertising and marketing affects youth health, Thomadsen wants to examine the best way to market

fast food to make the most profit for competition.

In order to support their analysis, McClure et al. provide “A national sample of 2541 U.S

Youth, aged 15-23 years,” that “were surveyed in 2010-2011 (p.560).” Sampling is one of the key

literary practices in psychology, it allows for evidence from direct populations that are being affected

which gives a more effective result. Thomadsen (2007) on the other hand uses competition models

where “the first stage, each firm chooses a location.” and “in the second stage each firm chooses a price
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( p.794).” This shows a marketing literary practice. What counts as evidence is through the analyzing of

a set up indirect experiment. Both of these practices although different, in return create credibility of the

authors and the study or claim presented in the article.

McClure et al. (2013) conclude the results as follows: “ Using a cued-recall assessment, TV

fast-food advertising receptivity was found to be associated with youth obesity (560).” Thomadsen

(2007) concludes that “ the role of price competition on product positioning is fundamentally different

under asymmetric competition than under symmetric competition” (p.792).” The language for each

example even though it is fairly simple there is certain vocabulary that would need prior knowledge

within the field to understand. The lexis, in the marketing article is much different than that in the

psychology one, Thomadsen (2007) uses words like, optimal, product positioning, profits, asymmetric,

and symmetric competition and in the article the use of equations with variables such as Vi,0= B0+ni,0

(p.792-800). Meanwhile in the psychology article, McClure et al. (2013) use words such as

methods,cued-recall, covariates,association, data, limitations and acronyms such as BMI, TVFFAR, an

CI. This is significant because it shows an identification with each discourse community. If you are not

the audience of the specific article it is most likely that you would not understand much of the equations

or most of the language. Lastly, another similarity I noticed was the use of tables, figure (models), and

graphs. Even though both McClure et al. (2013) and Thomadsen (2007) both use tables, figures, and

graphs there is a difference in the types of tables,figures,graphs. For example, McClure et al. use

theoretic models,percent to receptivity line graphs and larger tables. Thomadsen (2007), uses models of

maps to show geographic areas, price to distance line graphs , and smaller tables. The vocabulary,

format and characteristics of the literary practices are tailored to serve a unique and specific purpose.

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As we can see, within a specific field or discourse community there are similar or perhaps

completely different structures however, there is importance in the vocabulary used and careful selection

of how the information is presented. Whether it is in a classroom setting or in a scholarly article each

field or subject has certain characteristics that their discourse community identifies with, that is what

makes them unique. Even though marketing is focused on the business perspective of the fast food

industry and Psychology on the health perspective they both use logical reasoning when analyzing and

using evidence to prove their claims valuable to a specific audience. No doubt the Fast food industry

has grown immensely and it is almost inevitable that it will continue to grow. Overall, the purpose is to

show that there is importance in taking a moment to see more than the superficial. Ask why a specific

field like Psychology is trying to explain the effects and damages on youth meanwhile a field like

Marketing is trying to find strategies to sell and advertise more efficiently.Ask yourself why it is that a

certain restaurant is located at a specific location or analyze why an advertisement how it is, because it

might be affecting you whether it’s in your health or in your wallet.
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German, T.C.M (2017, May 4). Introduction to Psychology [Lecture]. Address at Lotte Lehmann

Concert Hall, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA.

Gourinchas, O.P. (2015, Spring). EWMBA 201B: Macroeconomics in the Global

Economy[Syllabus]. Address at the Haas School of Business.the University of California

Berkeley, Berkeley, CA. academics/ docs/


Mcclure, A. C., Tanski, S. E., Gilbert-Diamond, D., Adachi-Mejia, A. M., Li, Z., Li, Z., &

Sargent, J. D. (2013). Receptivity to Television Fast-Food Restaurant Marketing and Obesity

Among U.S. Youth. American Journal of Preventive Medicine,45(5), 560-568. Doi:

10.1016/j. Amepre.2013.06.011

Thomadsen, R. (2007). Product Positioning and Competition: The Role of Location in the Fast

Food Industry. Marketing Science,26(6), 792-804. doi:10.1287/mksc.1070.0296