Children Have Money and Power
PRAD 563- Media Planning
Advertising to children is often seen as a matter of ethics. The conversation is usually centered on deciding whether or not it should or should not be done. More often than not, the response is: “Advertising to children is unethical. They are too immature to fully understand the concept.” However, let’s explore the opposite side of the spectrum. Recent data for advertising to children reflects a lucrative opportunity, one that is worth talking about. Although children (ages 2-12) can be seen as naïve and gullible, their role in advertising has an undeniable effect on the financial success of brands and their overall relevance in society.
Parental Buying Power
The topic of advertising to children should be evaluated based on the ability to capitalize on the buying power of parents. A child’s first advocate, first supporter, and first provider are their parents. In addition to this insight, acknowledging that parents desire to make their children happy leads to the favorable side of advertising to children as it relates to brands and the advertising business overall.
Mary, a participant in Arquillia’s mini-survey answered this question: How does your child’s desire to have a particular brand influence your spending in that category? What role does advertising play in your decision to purchase items for a child? Mary, a 47-year-old grandmother of 2 states:
“There is nothing I won’t do for my grandchildren. (Including buying them more toys than I should). Their smiles and happiness has a major effect on the things I purchase. I have spent weeks purchasing items from Guitar Center, weeks purchasing items from Michaels and weeks purchasing items from Toys R Us. As their interest changed, my location of purchasing did also.”
Whether Mary’s grandchildren wanted to pursue music, art or just be a “regular” kid she is prepared to spend her money in whatever category her grandsons are interested in. Mary is a prime example of how emotional influence effects sales. This further supports the idea that the love and emotions toward children has power. Children can be described very easily in this scenario. When a child makes the decision that they want something, they simply ask for it. Just as quickly as the child makes a request, a parent makes a purchase. Now, one may want to consider how advertising plays a role in this process.
The time period between desire and purchase is critical for brands. Mary also said: “when my grandson told me he wanted a v-tech watch, I sought out v-tech ads and I began to pay closer attention to the brand, because suddenly it meant something to me.” Additionally, Sandra L. Calvert’s article Children as Consumers: Advertising and Marketing states: “Youths also shape the buying patterns of their families. From vacation choices to car purchases to meal selections, they exert a tremendous power over the family pocketbook.” Understanding this component of the business is key in pinpointing why the relationship between parents, money, their children and advertising is important. Ignoring the presence of parents when advertising to children is similar to ignoring a basketball at a basketball game. In order to win you must acknowledge the most important part of winning—thus achieving success.
Children and Brand Characters on Television
One of the advantages of advertising to children is the ability to create characters, thus lasting consumer-brand relationships. The role of consumer-brand relationships as it relates to children, is so interesting because of the idea that children humanize brands. AdWeek published an article When Does Brand Loyalty Start? in 2003that describes an in-store experience of a 3-year-old girl who was very clear about the brand she wanted her mom to purchase. This child, Juliana went into the store wanting one thing but changed her mind because of the stronger brand relationship she identified with. The article says:
“The assertive 3-year-old was on a mission for chocolate Teddy Grahams. But just as she was about to secure her prized snack, she spotted her hero, Dora the Explorer, on a different box. Teddy didn’t stand a chance. “I want those,” she proclaimed.”
Just in that moment, Juliana demonstrated how she felt about Dora the Explorer. Perhaps she viewed Dora as a friend, role model, or even a family member. This 3 year old, even at a young age displayed an act of loyalty by way of a brand character. Dora the Explorer, a popular character from the early 2000s was on every little girl’s purse, book bag, lunch-box and television screen. Although the multi-cultural content of the show was interesting, Dora left a lasting impact because little girls around the world built a relationship with her. Although Dora was a TV character, to Juliana and other girls like her, her impact was lasting for years to come. This story about Juliana is just one of many that has led to financial gain of brands. Although this example represented the snack category, this concept however is transferable amongst all advertising.
Financial Success on Brands
It is no secret that brand advertising is done with the intent of seeing revenue in sales. According to Sandra L. Calvert’s scholarly article Children as Consumers: Advertising and Marketingfour to twelve year olds are spending billions of dollars on products, and as marketers it would be harmful to the success of brands if they ignored the aforementioned figures. The role of advertising is simple, however the process of advertising effectively can be complex. Children know what they want, and although they are not working citizens in society, they know who will provide them with the things they want. Calvert says: “Experts estimate that two-to fourteen year olds sway over $500 billion a year in household purchasing. Thus, to influence youth is to influence the entire family’s buying decisions.” This quote eloquently paints the picture of how much money children are spending. It drives home the reason why advertising to children produces results for brands.
Children and the Future Market
The old adage says: “children are the future”. This theory also holds true in advertising. In the Advertising Targeted to Children EssayBartleby describes the role of child advertising and its advantages, specifically projected sales. This component directly portrayed the influence children have on the success of the “future market”. Bartleby further explained what could be considered “the cycle of child advertising”. He simply explains how children enter the “process” influencing their parents’ spending. Then, they become the adults that spend money on their desired brands; lastly, they become parents of children who repeat the process with their own families.
Let’s consider the specifics. In the first stage children are controlling the dollars their parents are spending; however, in the second stage they (those same children) become the purchasers. Then, in the third stage they grow older and become the parents who purchase for their own children. This evolution is worth the wait in the eyes of marketers because there is longevity in sales for the brands. According to the Advertising Targeted to Children Essaychildren represent three different markets. The essay states: “In addition to the direct money that children spend and the money they influence, children also represent a third major market and perhaps the most significant and that is the future market…” The future market is such an important part of advertising research because like any other business, the goal is always to master how the business works and how advertisers should approach the same target audience creatively to ensure sales. Although the aforementioned “cycle of child advertising” concept is important to marketers, it is undeniably a lucrative factor for the financial success of brands.
It is time to address the topic of advertising to children in a favorable light. Advertisers should be given more credit to not only advertise to children responsibly but also in good taste. There is a real connection between brands and children. Acknowledging this key insight has proven to drive undeniable financial results for brands in markets such as food, retail and kids fashion. Children “have money”; therefore, brands should continue to foster strong relationships with this target audience (children ages 2-12) to continue the robust camaraderie between children and brands.
“Advertising Targeted to Children Essay.” Advertising Targeted to Children Essay - 1039 Words | Bartleby,
Calvert, Sandra L. Children as Consumers: Advertising and Marketing . 2008, pdfs.semanticscholar.org/afad/423524b4d080b2ae1bfbf4073fae5a37924b.pdf.
Comiteau, Jennifer. “When Does Brand Loyalty Start?” – Adweek, Adweek, 23 Mar. 2003,