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Selling organic candy: multimodal critical discourse analysis of commercial websites

José-Santiago Fernández-Vázquez (University of Alcalá, Madrid, Spain)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 25 November 2020

Issue publication date: 21 October 2021

1120

Abstract

Purpose

This paper examines how organic candies are marketed as healthy and ethical choices on commercial websites through the use of visual, rhetorical and promotional strategies.

Design/methodology/approach

The study uses social semiotics and multimodal critical discourse analysis to identify the narratives and discursive traits that organic candy manufacturers reproduce on their websites as part of their ethical branding policy. The dataset is formed by 10 websites that commercialize organic confectionery.

Findings

The findings indicate that sellers try to associate organic candy to healthiness, simple and traditional lifestyles and social awareness to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Often the ethical claims that organic candy websites reproduce are not justified.

Research limitations/implications

A major limitation of this study is that the investigation does not evaluate the effectiveness of rhetorical and discursive strategies on real consumer decisions. Further research of an ethnographic or empirical nature would be required for this purpose.

Practical implications

This study recognizes the strategies that organic candy sellers reproduce can help consumers make more informed choices. From the point of view of marketers, understanding the multimodal, rhetorical and discursive strategies that organic candy brands employ can be useful to devise their own marketing approaches.

Originality/value

The investigation contributes to a growing body of research about multimodal critical discourse analysis within food marketing studies. To the best of the author's knowledge, this is the first paper that analyses organic candy branding from a multimodal perspective.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This investigation forms part of the long-term research Project “EMOtion and language at work”: The discursive emotive/evaluative FUNction in different texts and contexts within corporate and institutional work: PROject PERsuasion (EMOFUNDETT: PROPER)', financed by the Ministry of Science and Technology in Spain (reference FFI2013-47792-C2-2-P).

Citation

Fernández-Vázquez, J.-S. (2021), "Selling organic candy: multimodal critical discourse analysis of commercial websites", British Food Journal, Vol. 123 No. 10, pp. 3277-3292. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-09-2020-0800

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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