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A deep-fried Mars a day may help you work, rest and play.

A deep-fried Mars a day may help you work, rest and play

Guess what; the deep-fried Mars bar is no urban myth. It is available over the counter at more than a fifth of chip shops in Scotland.

A National Health Service study of 500 chip shops in Greater Glasgow revealed that 22% have the foodstuff on their menu and another 17% used to sell them. One shop reported selling up to 200 a week - mainly to children. And some shopkeepers told researchers that they had been asked for deep-fried Snickers, Creme Eggs and even pizzas.

It looks like 'case closed' for those who argue that Scots' diet is worse than that of their counterparts south of the border. But in volume 35 issue 11 of Marketing Week, Lucy Handley reports surprising evidence from market researcher Kantar Worldpanel that Scottish consumers are more likely than people in England and Wales to cook from scratch at home, buy fresh fruit and vegetables and choose food because it is healthy.

'Just over 19% of Scottish people say that health is a primary reason for choosing food to eat at home - up from 17% in 2008,' says Lucy Handley. 'Health is a motivating factor for 21.5% of English and Welsh people, but this is down from 23% in 2008.'

Recipes made with red meat are more likely to be home-made in Scotland. Almost 90% of Scottish people buy fresh beef, compared with 84% south of the border.

Scots are 9% more likely than people in the rest of Britain to spend more of their cash on organic food, while the average spend per shopper on fruit and vegetables is also higher in Scotland than in the rest of the UK.

However, there remains one dark spot north of the border; Scots spend a greater percentage of their income on soft drinks, alcohol (especially spirits) and biscuits than their counterparts in England and Wales.

Health campaigns appear to have played a significant part in encouraging Scottish consumers to opt for more nutritious food. Many of these play on people's sense of guilt at opting for the 'wrong' products - especially mothers choosing unhealthy options for their children.

In volume 47 issue 3 of Admap, Kathy Slack explains that guilt has long been used by marketers as an emotional driver; whether it is guilt about being healthy enough, looking after our families well enough or doing enough for the environment. She argues that guilt is a tried-and-tested method to motivate action in the short-term, but there are questions concerning the long-term implications.

Kathy Slack reports that dessert brand Gu exists in a sector that is flooded with examples of guilt marketing. It reframed its strategy to build positive associations with the brand and move away from playing on consumers' guilt, in a bid to rectify the discrepancy between high brand awareness and low penetration.

The author concludes that, given the cultural consequences of a nation made to feel inadequate, it is better for marketing and advertising to emphasize the positive aspects of the products they are promoting.

Even deep-fried Mars bars may have a positive side. As any Briton aged over 50 will remember from the early television commercials, 'A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play!'