The potential influence of the
contemporary child on the purchase decisions of their parents has significantly
increased. Consequently, more companies have heightened the attention accorded
to this target group. For instance, more companies are advertising their
products to the market segment. The increase in children’s influence is the
result of increased product knowledge, changing marketing techniques, changing
production patterns, and the change in modern parenting styles.
In line with the cultivation theory,
watching the television for a long period influences a person’s perception of
the world around them (Schor 64). Children in the USA spend much time watching
television and playing video games as opposed to playing. According to Schor,
this situation exposes them to 40,000 adverts on an annual basis (Schor 20).
Their understanding of the world and their identity formation is largely
dependent on these adverts. By reconceptualizing growth and development as the
process through which children learn to consume, the marketers have created new
needs and met the existing needs of the children through these adverts (Schor
42). According to Schor, one of the universal needs the marketers have attempted
to meet is the need to belong. For instance, products advertisements have often
suggested that having a particular product will enable children to acquire more
friends (Schor 42). Children are likely to request their parents to purchase
such products. This is most effective where their friends already have the
particular product. Similarly, the advertisers have gained a greater
understanding about the need for gender differentiation and work to provide
differentiated products for both boys and girls, ensuring each product meets
the predetermined gender needs (Schor 42). The modern advertisement techniques
have also exploited the children’s need to be successful by relating the
products to common fantasies.
The modern advertisers have equally
exploited several themes in an attempt to influence the children’s consumption.
These include the ‘coolness’ theme. Under this theme, a product’s value lies in
its social status (Frontline). This status is emphasized by portraying the
product as socially exclusive and proving its acceptability among children who
are a little older than those in the target group. The theme of ‘antiadults’
has equally been exploited (Schor 55). The status of kids as subjects creates
the need to form separate identities. By creating the notion that certain
products are not friendly to adults, the children can own them. This increases
their demand within the segment.
Finally, the dual messaging theme in product promotion has ensured that
parents buy their kids the preferred products (Schor 58). Companies achieve
this feat by showing the parents how the products contribute to their
children’s well-being while appealing to their target group by meeting the
Recent changes in manufacturers behaviors
have also lead to an increase in child influence on the market. For instance, the promotion of hedonism
ensures that consumers keep throwing away older products and purchasing new
ones (Murphy 33). The companies have promoted this change by
producing non-durable goods, forcing parents to make repeat purchases.
Additionally, the companies have also adopted the Fordism method of production
where they produce reduced batches of highly differentiated goods (Murphy 23).
Unlike the past production methods where a child only required one type of
product, the high differentiation has availed a wide variety of child
consumers. The children are therefore more likely to influence more purchases
in comparison to the past times.
In the same vein, there has been a
significant change in the parenting styles of modern parents. Unlike the
traditional authoritative parents, the modern parent is more willing to
negotiate with their child and reach an agreement (Schor 24). The negotiations
will often lead to a purchase. The greater need for the modern parent to
protect their child from any negative experience has also influenced the buying
patterns within the segment (Pugh 99). Just like past societies, the modern
society determines a person’s status by analyzing their observable
characteristics. These include such things as the products which they use. The
exposure of the present day children to brand information has increased the
peer pressure focused on them (Pugh 120). A parent may, therefore, view the
purchases as a way of protecting their child’s dignity and guaranteeing greater
peer acceptance. Parents may also view these purchases as a way of reaffirming
their social status. Many modern-day parents similarly rely on their children’s
personal and school reports to determine that which is acceptable to the
existing society (Pugh 89). Their child’s claim that another person has a
particular thing is seen as a sign that the product is acceptable for their
child. The contemporary affluent parents are also more likely to use their
children to maintain a distinction, which has equally led to an increase in the
purchase of goods meant for the children (Pugh 107).
Evidently, the influence of the child
market segment can no longer be overlooked. A product advertised to this
segment relies heavily on the children’s opinions. To successfully market any
products to the people within this target group, it is essential to understand
their motivations and needs. It is also essential to understand how parents
control this target group’s activities and appeal to them as well.
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