Happy Meal Toy Ban Won’t Change Behavior: Research

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Research shows that San Francisco's Happy Meal toy ban is off the mark and will not change behavior or children's preference for McDonald's.

A recently concluded study of 1,200 consumers shows that children play a significantly greater role in choosing McDonald's than in choosing other quick-service restaurants. The Restaurant Selection Study from CFI Group found that nearly one-third (32 percent) of families who ate at McDonald's did so because of their kids' influence. This compares to just 7 percent for all other quick-service restaurants. The study also finds that toys are the primary driver of that choice only 8 percent of the time.

"San Francisco's proposed ban on Happy Meal toys is well intentioned, but misguided," said Sheri Teodoru, CEO of CFI Group. "Saying that Buzz Lightyear or MegaMind causes childhood obesity is easy, but doesn't address the problem. Our research shows that toys have limited influence over children's preference for McDonald's."

"McDonald's is more than the cheap plastic toy," said Michael Drago, North American business development executive at CFI Group. "From the food, and the familiar cast of friendly characters, to the playground, McDonald's is a place kids like to go."

Added Teodoru: "Quick service restaurants -- including those who serve kids' meals with toys -- are about convenience, taste and affordability. Taking toys away doesn't address the issue of why families are there in the first place."

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