Children and the Modern Market~
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 children’s needs.
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.
Frontline. Merchants of Cool. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/view/
Murphy, Wendy. Consumer Culture and Society. Sage Publication INC., 2016
Schor, Juliet B. Born to buy: The commercialized child and the new consumer cult. Simon and
Pugh, Allison J. Longing and belonging: Parents, children, and consumer culture. University of
California Press, 2009.
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