Advertising to Children
In the current generation, marketing activities have been intensified as a result of globalization. Globalization has allowed business organizations to transient boundaries to access market in all corners of the world. Marketing activities targets a specific population depending on the type of goods and marketing tactics used. Children have emerged as important population segment marketers direct their advertisements. Although most of them do not have an independent buying power, marketers feel that they play a special role in influencing the purchase decisions of their parents, and thus they are essential in marketing. Advertising to children is a tricky undertaking because of the age factor and ethical responsibilities. This means advertisers have to consider a number of issues before utilizing the process. Many companies have implemented children advertising strategy, and this paper will explore the process in details.
Meaning and Scope of Children Adverts
Advertising or marketing to children is a marketing strategy, whereby the brand is positioned to ensure it has an influence on children. Potvin, and Wanless (2014) state that the advertisement is carried out according to the criteria set by the advertising standards and national regulations. Marketing products and services to children has attracted a lot of controversies to the point that most people consider the topic as illegal. However, advertising to children is a legal marketing undertaking, and has some rules and regulations guiding its implementation. The laws on children advertisement have evolved as a result of the progression in technology and marketing tactics, as well as advertising self-regulations.
The concept of marketing to children is carried out in a number of traditional media and limited electronic media. They include television, print, and radio. The Internet media, such as the social media is rarely used because children to do not access social media. The process is also carried out through sales promotion, in-store advertisement, packaging, and event sponsorship among others. When advertising to children, the age at which children can synthesize adverts is defined. According to Handsley, Mehta, and Coveney (2014), the age between zero to eight years is defined as the age of early childhood. At this age, it is considered that children have not fully developed to synthesize adverts independently. Handsley, Mehta, and Coveney (2014) further states that children at this stage can be swayed, and thus advertisers must be careful when presenting their message. The age of 12 is considered as the age at which children have fully developed to make their independent decision. At this age, children have matured enough and can distinguish one brand from another in order to make an informed decision. Children advertisement is on the rise. According to Handsley, Mehta, and Coveney (2014), more than $1.6 billion is spend annually on children adverts.
Various countries have various Legislations on children adverts. In some European nations, such as the UK, and Greece, it is illegal to advertise to children. In other states, such as Norway, Sweden, and Quebec, advertising to children below the age of 12 is restricted. The European Union has not banned advertisement to children in its 27 member states, but has rather defined a framework to guide the process. The framework prohibits the use of disturbing graphics, such as ones depicting nudity and violence. It also restricts advertising products designed for adults to the children. For instance, products, such as alcohol and contraceptives are not meant for children.
Advertising to children is carried out because of mainly two reasons. First, the population of children is high. Children are the majority of the consumer market. Although they do not have the buying power, they consume what their parents give them. Since a parent’s desire is to see his/her children happy, children are likely to be provided with the brand they like. Second, children have a high influence on their parents. They can coerce their parents to buy for them a particular brand of products after being convinced of its effectiveness. Some can even use unorthodox means, such as crying for them to acquire their desired brand. Smithers, Lynch, and Merlin (2014) claim that children are convinced easily by the media to make a decision. Thus, marketers who use the best strategies to convince them to buy achieve their goal.
Smithers, Lynch, and Merlin (2014) state that television and print media are the most strategic means of advertising to children. Many advertisers target schools and parks because children spend more time in schools and these playing grounds.
The Effects of Children Advertisement on the Advertisement Industry
Advertising to children has generated negative criticism than positive responses since its introduction. The negative responses have affected the advertising industry, such that the industry is being blamed for a number of woes in the society. Food adverts have been blamed for their negative effects on children. According to Connell, Brucks, and Nielsen (2014), unregulated food adverts are to be blamed for the fast growing number of obesity cases in children and adolescents. In the last decade, obesity cases in children have doubled, and this has been attributed to adverts arguing children to eat more.
Connell, Brucks, and Nielsen (2014) blame eroding morals in children on unregulated adverts from the advertising industry. Adverts, such as tobacco and alcohol have affected children morals to the point that some have started using such products. Connell, Brucks, and Nielsen (2014) state that children can be swayed easily, and their minds can record negative images in adverts. Adverts that use celebrities can impact children behaviors and conducts, whereby they will strive to emulate the celebrities seen in the adverts. As a result, the industry has been blamed for the eroding morals in the society.
The fact that advertising to children has negative impacts has led to legal restricts on adverts targeting children. This has affected the advertising industry, which has been torn between marketing goods designed to children, and ensuring they do so without arousing their curiosity. Stakeholders in the legal sector argue that children have no buying power. They rely on their guardians to give them what is the best. As a result, advertisers must target them. However, the advertising industry argues that children have a right to select what they like, and thus need marketers to enlighten them.
The current position of the advertising industry is keen on striking a deal between parents and the industry. Parents are ones in control of their children, and thus can advise them on what is best for them. The advertising industry, on one hand, must ensure responsible advertising through honest and effective advertising. Parents are required to monitor, as well as advice their children on what to watch. They are also required to observe the activities of children, and subject them to programs that only fit their age rating.
How Advertising to Children Aids Managers in Using the Advertising Campaign to Achieve Business Objectives
The main role of advertisement is to ensure products reach the target customer. The objective of the business practicing advertising to children is to increase its sales to children, and at the same time gain increased brand reputation. Managers ought to understand the effects of advertising to young children in order to launch the process. In the first place, managers ought to understand the media to use when positioning their brands to target their clients. Children spent more time watching television and also in school. Managers can use this information on child advertising to position their adverts in school forums and television. In this case, they can increase their placement and presence of their brand among the people.
Advertising to children requires one to adhere to the regulations in the industry on child advertising. Each jurisdiction requires the advertising company to consider a number of regulations that ensures the ethical position of the adverts. In the EU, such regulations hold the advertising company responsible for unregulated adverts that have elements of pornography and scary graphics. However, adverts that adhere to the set regulations are aired without restrictions thereby gaining the presence on the target market. Managers capitalize on this opportunity to position their brand in the market. In this case, they will increase their popularity without causing a scandal.
In the current generation, advertising to children is highly criticized, and the advertising companies are seen as responsible for erosion of morals in the society. As a result, a company that will position well on the market as a respecter of children values in its adverts will gain reputation among the public as the best brand. Managers can take note of this strategy and position their product in line with the existing regulations to increase their popularity.
Children consist of a larger consumer segment, and they also have an influence on their parents whom they can coerce their parents into buying their preferred brand. However, this requires the advertisers to position their brand in appealing manner. According to Kunkel, Castonguay, Wright, and McKinley (2014), Children are appealed by creative colors and content that is entertaining. Advertisers can take the advantage of this information and design their adverts in a way that appeals them. The children in turn will know what they want, and thus will influence their parents to buy for them.
Children constitute the larger segment of future consumers, and marketing managers should take the advantage of this opportunity. Future marketers are essential and should be cultivated now if the company hopes to expand its influence. In this case, it is advisable for marketers to arrange for a day for kids, whereby they give kids free gifts with their brand conspicuous on it. When such kids grow, they may wish to be associated with such brand.
Children are current consumers, and marketers should take note of that when advertising. According to Kunkel, Castonguay, Wright, and McKinley (2014), children in the US spend about $4.2 billion per year on their own. This means they are a serious market with money to spend on their own. They can spend on toys, candies, sweets, and soft drinks among others. As a result, they ought to be treated as genuine consumers by marketers.
Advertising to Children and Consumer Behaviors
Consumer behaviors refer to the traits exhibited by consumers that can be exploited by marketers to enable them choose a particular brand. According to Pettigrew et al. (2013), the majority of literature on consumer behaviors focuses on the behaviors of adults whom they consider as major decision makers during the process of buying. Marketers consider parents as sole decision makers because they are providers of money, as well as directions. However, Kunkel, Castonguay, Wright, and McKinley (2014), state that trends are changing in terms of consumer behaviors, and thus marketers should take note of the change. Kunkel, Castonguay, Wright, and McKinley (2014) claim that parenting behaviors are changing, and marketers can take the advantage of this change during marketing. Parents no longer dictate what children should buy. Instead, parents have resorted to encourage children to be independent. Children make their decision when buying, and this should be a marketing point for children.
Example of a Company Practicing Advertising to Children
There are many companies that advertise their wares to children, and one of them is The Walt Disney Company. The company was formed in 1923, and focuses on mass media. It specializes in movies, web portals, cable television, theme parks, and publishing. The company operates worldwide. One of the areas the company has intensified in is the theme parks. Theme parks present a good holiday destination for many children or a place for a weekend outing. The parks also have some hotels and shops for refreshments, and thus the company advertises these products.
The Walt Disney Company advertises its products and services to children, as well as to adult. The company features adverts for fast-food and theme parks that target children. The company has taken the benefit of the present and influential market segment of children advertising to position its products on the market. The present market involves children with money to spend during the weekend. According to Mucha, Bergman, and Tomljanovic (2012), Walt Disney theme parks are second to none, and thus children do not think of any other brand when they have money to spend. The influential marketing campaign carried out by the company has made Walt Disney theme park the epitome of a childhood dream.
In 2006, Walt Disney Company came up with a comprehensive plan to adhere to regulations in advertising to children. The company launched a program to partner with parents in its adverts to ensure that children led healthier lives. Prior to that, the company had been blamed for promoting obesity among children by promoting junk foods. As a result, the company countered the program by educating children good eating habits. The company further introduced “Disney Magic of Living a healthy life” as a program to promote balanced diets in its restaurants. This means the company has tried to match the legal and societal demands with the marketing aura needed to convince its target market.
Marketing activities target a specific population, depending on the type of goods and marketing tactics. This paper has established children as a target market for many advertisers. Children have emerged as an important population segment for marketers, and the industry is on the rise unlike in the past. Marketers feel that children play a special role in influencing the purchase decisions of their parents, and thus they are essential in marketing. Although it is a lucrative segment, it is marred by some ethical issues because children are still under the watch of parents. Nevertheless, some companies are doing it the right way, and this paper has identified Walt Disney as one of them.
Connell, P. M., Brucks, M., & Nielsen, J. H. (2014). How Childhood Advertising Exposure Can Create Biased Product Evaluations That Persist into Adulthood. Journal of Consumer Research, 41(1), 119-134. doi:10.1086/675218
Handsley, E., Mehta, K., & Coveney, J. (2014). A Children’s Rights Perspective on Food Advertising to Children. International Journal of Children’s Rights, 22(1), 93-134. doi: 10.1163/15718182-55680024
Kunkel, D., Castonguay, J., Wright, P. J., & McKinley, C. J. (2014). Solution or Smokescreen? Evaluating Industry Self-Regulation of Televised Food Marketing to Children. Communication Law & Policy, 19(3), 263-292. doi:10.1080/10811680.2014.919797
Mucha, Z., Bergman, M., & Tomljanovic, M. (2012). The Walt Disney Company sets new standards for food advertising to kids. Retrieved August 24, 2014, from The Walt Disney Company: http://thewaltdisneycompany.com/disney-news/press-releases/2012/06/walt-disney-company-sets-new-standards-food-advertising-kids
Pettigrew, S., Tarabashkina, L., Roberts, M., Quester, P., Chapman, K., & Miller, C. (2013). The effects of television and Internet food advertising on parents and children. Public Health Nutrition, 16(12), 2205-2212. doi: 10.1017/S1368980013001067
Potvin Kent, M., & Wanless, A. (2014). The influence of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative: change in children’s exposure to food advertising on television in Canada between 2006-2009. International Journal of Obesity, 38(4), 558-562. doi:10.1038/ijo.2014.4
Smithers, L., Lynch, J., & Merlin, T. (2014). Industry self-regulation and TV advertising of foods to Australian children. Journal of Paediatrics & Child Health, 50(5), 386-392. doi:10.1111/jpc.12488
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