Huge Marketing efforts made by companies to attract children and teenagers may seem unnecessary because children by themselves have no purchasing power. However what is important is the fact, that an increasing number of parents are eager to spend a lot of money on their children. The cause, for this tendency of parents to splurge on their children has been found to be the fact that, parents feel guilty about not being able to spend adequate time with their children; so, they compensate by spending money on them. (Schlosser)
A survey has revealed that kids aged two are capable of recognizing a brand logo, and it has been proven that kids learn to recognize a brand logo before they learn to recognize their own name (Schlosser 2001). Many companies these days pursue ‘cradle to grave’ marketing; companies believe that brand loyalty inculcated as a child will last throughout an individuals lifetime. So, by explicitly targeting children in their advertisements; companies are actually investing In long term brand loyalty. (Schlosser) Sociologist Vance Packard has described the role of children, as that of a surrogate salesman.
Which means that children can influence the buying decision of people closely associated with them – especially their parents? Children may want to influence their parents buying behavior even for those products which are not intended for their personal use such as; car, furniture, kitchen equipment etc. (Schlosser) Walt Disney and McDonald’s were the first to realize the potential of children as customers. McDonald’s advertising campaign was designed to capture the imagination of toddlers and young kids.. (Schlosser)
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McDonaldland with its hamburger patch, apple pie tree, and filet-O-Fish fountain had one crucial thing in common with Disney Land. Almost everything in it was for sale. McDonald's soon loomed large in the imagination of toddlers, the intended audience for the ads. The restaurant chain evoked a series of pleasing images in a youngster's mind: bright colors, a playground, a toy, a clown, a drink with a straw, little pieces of food wrapped up like a present. (Schlosser) Following the phenomenal success of Walt Disney and McDonalds, companies began to think of children and teens as a lucrative segment of the market.
For last 25 years children have become the focus of companies and a lot of research has been done in this field. ‘Marketing for Children’ has evolved as a major industry and these days many advertising companies have distinct departments for children-advertising, there are some advertising companies which solely specialize in this field. (Schlosser) In order to design the right marketing approach for children and Teens, it is important to understand them better. Companies employ many different techniques to gain an understanding of what kids like. Among these techniques are surveys, corporate sponsored slumber parties etc.
Some companies also employ the services of anthropologists who are sent to places where children gather (such as; malls, fast food restaurant etc) and they secretly observe children in order to gain more information about them. Dan S Acuff the author of ‘What kids Like? ’ (1997) states that in his book that dream research is crucial for designing advertisement for kids aged six and less. He states that research has proved that about 80% of kids aged six and under – mostly dream of animals and rounded creatures. So, an advertisement featuring such creatures will be highly appealing to children aged six and below. (Schlosser)
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