Obesity is a leading cause of premature death, in part due to the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). In New Jersey, one-fifth of adults drink one or more SSB/day. The Public Good Projects has collaborated with the Nicholson Foundation to create and implement a digital media campaign focused on reducing consumption of SSBs and increasing water consumption among those at highest risk for negative health consequences. An extensive literature review revealed a need to pay particular attention to low-income, Hispanic/Latino and African American New Jersey residents, as well as the importance of leveraging the role of mothers in decreasing SSB consumption for themselves and their family.
To examine the impact of the campaigns, PGP employs three unique evaluation methodologies:
- PGP purchases information on beverage sales data. Data are purchased from IRI, a market data firm that contains the world’s largest set of purchase, media, and loyalty data. IRI is commonly used by for-profit industries - including beverage companies - to understand market performance and retail analytics, consumer insights, and ad performance. PGP is the first organization to use sales of SSBs as a metric for SSB campaign success.
- PGP utilizes a technology tool for monitoring online content and traditional media conversation around sugar-sweetened beverages and changes in this conversation among the general public/ within media coverage and reporting. Data are collected using a third-party program, Zignal (www.zignallabs.com), which employs a combination of techniques to ingest public data and structure it for analysis. Public data include various media sources such as social and digital media (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook), YouTube, online forums, online Q&A websites, news sites and blogs, print media such as journals, magazines, and newspapers, and broadcast television. Data from Zignal are used to monitor and evaluate the ways that SSBs are discussed online over time.
- PGP conducted baseline and follow up evaluation surveys to understand trends and changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors (KABs) related to SSB consumption.
PGP’s multi-pronged SSB-reduction campaign has made a positive impact on SSB-related knowledge, attitudes, and behavior in New Jersey. Utilizing multiple sources of data to evaluate campaign impact, results show:
- A substantial decrease in the sales of fruit drink mixes, sports drinks, and sodas/ soft drinks.
- Positive trends toward increased self-reported water consumption and decreased soda consumption. Survey results also showed decreases in those who frequently have SSBs available in the home, as well as a decrease in perceived acceptability of allowing children to consume soda.
- An increase in media conversation related to SSBs across New Jersey, both during and after the campaign. Conversation monitoring also showed increases in messages related to campaign topics, particularly the importance of choosing water over SSBs. This pattern was not observed at the national level, which remained flat throughout the data collection period.