The trend for advertisers to target children rather than adults has several reasons behind it. The first reason is associated with the fact that during the 1980s working parents had less time to spend with their children and tried to substitute emotional connection with buying more things for their offsprings. It was the era when children emerged as an important category of consumers.The second reason is advertisers’ attempt to develop brand loyalty among their future customers from the early age. Children have been reported to recognize brand logos before they are able to speak their name.
Advertisers reckon that nostalgic memories from childhood will propel consumers to buy their brand as grownups.The third reason for the focus on children is associated with effectiveness of nagging strategies children use to make their parents buy products they want. There are seven nagging strategies children employ, as identified by James U. McNeal, the author of the book ‘Kids as Customers.’ The first strategy is referred to as a pleading nag and implies repeating words like ‘please’ or ‘mom’ until the child gets what he or she wants. The second strategy, a persistent nag, is based on requesting the desired object over and over again. It may include phrases like ‘I’m gonna ask just one more time.
’ The third form of pressurizing parents into buying certain products is a forceful nag that may involve threats and other pushy statement. The child may threaten to ask Dad instead thus playing on the mother’s willingness to be the most loves out of two parents. The forth strategy is a demonstrative nag – the most dangerous scenario characterized by scandals in public places, crying, refusing to walk out of the shop, breath-holding, and similar tactics.
The fifth strategy is labeled a sugar-coated nag and relies on promising love and recognition in return for the desired object and may involve such phrases as ‘You’re the best parent ever.’ The sixth strategy, a threatening nag, implies some forms of blackmailing, running away or vows of eternal hatred. The last form of a nag called a pity nag includes the child telling his or her parents that he or she will be immensely sad or socially stunted if the desired object is not purchased.All these tactics can be used in combination and can have a varying effect on parents. Quite often, these nagging strategies prove to be as effective as advertisers think them to be. There are several reasons for that. First of all, many parents are very busy nowadays, and it is easier for them to purchase a certain thing than to spend half an hour on persuading their child that the purchase would be unnecessary or undesirable.
The second reason is that unfortunately, many parents do not connect well to their children and fail to establish a relationship of trust with them that is needed for reaching compromises or explaining which purchases are necessary and which are not. Young parents or single parents may simply lack communication and explanatory skills to avoid giving in to nagging.The third reason is that some parents believe that consumption is happiness and socialize their children into consumerism from the early age.
Well-to-do and permissive parents are likely to supply their children with excessive amounts of unnecessary things.The fourth reason why parent give in to nagging is the society’s view that children should always get what they want. Increased attention to children’s right and eliminating child abuse make the society disapprove of parents that do not fulfill every wish of their children. Trying to avoid being labeled as a ‘bad parent,’ mothers and fathers prefer to buy the desired object not to be criticized by passersby or community members.The effectiveness of nagging strategies provides a rationale for continuing focus on children. This may have undesirable consequences, since advertisers often do not follow ethical standards in their attempt to maximize profits. People often say that advertising is intrusive, deceptive and manipulative. Therefore, it is ethically wrong to target children as prime consumers of advertising content.
Unlike adults, children are incapable of distinguishing between advertising content and other television production. Furthermore, children may fall prey of commercials for alcohol and cigarettes.Marketing research into the likes and dislikes of children may interrupt their leisure activities and socializing.
While buying decisions rests with adults, children are getting more and more power in shaping their parents’ consumption patterns though nagging. A conclusion can be made that parents should learn how to deal efficiently with their children’s nagging strategies and make more independent buying decisions. Advertising aimed at children should be limited and controlled by public authorities. While consumerism remains a questionable virtue, it may be wrong to socialize children into consumerist values before they are able to make informed decisions of their own.ReferencesSchlosser, E. (2002). ‘Kid Kustomers.
’ In Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, New York: Harper Perennial, p. 347-351.