Anyone who is a parent understands the term “pester power”. Kids nag a parent to the point where an exhausted parent relents, purchasing an item that they wouldn’t have bought otherwise.
Marketers know this dynamic and, through a variety of methods, look to capitalize on it. In addition, today’s parents, dictated by demographic trends like smaller family size, dual incomes and postponing children until later, are willing and able to buy more for their children.
Children, both younger and in their teens, can be a sometimes elusive but vital demographic to marketers for a variety of reasons – they have their own purchasing power, they influence buying decisions in their household and they are future adult consumers. Though somewhat controversial, many companies hire expensive researchers and psychologists aimed at understanding children’s emotional and social development at various ages. Even more controversial, some schools, affected by shrinking budgets, have allowed corporations to promote their product in exchange for money, computers or other educational materials.
Different marketing strategies are employed when targeting children. Branding is a relatively new phenomenon. Previous to the mid-1980s, companies focused on producing good products. Now, the focus has shifted to creating an image, or brand. The branding, or marketing messages, of a product, if done well, can be a bigger driving force than the product itself. In this vein, some companies’ use “buzz marketing” – a modern day “word of mouth” tactic. Companies seek out cool kids in communities and try to attach their products to them. Perceived as trendsetters, these “cool kids” then wear or use products giving them instant credibility.
Children today are extraordinarily internet savvy, making the web a desirable and necessary tool in marketing to children. The allure of the internet is its omnipresence in the daily life of kids and the fact that it is essentially unregulated (unlike broadcasting media). In addition, new technologies have allowed the collection of information which in turn is used to target individuals with customized advertising – a marketing no-brainer.
Michelle Mayer is blogger at Mijo! Brands in Mexico.
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