Marketing in 2017
Marketing is much more than commercials or paper advertisements; it includes a wide array of tactics companies use to promote their products, such as:
- Attractive packaging
- Placement in strategic locations within stores and on shelves
- Free giveaways and coupons
- Celebrity endorsements
- Product placements in movies, cartoons or popular TV shows
- Sponsorship of kids’ camps, sports teams and programs
- Children’s activities, awards, recognition programs and logo placement in schools
- Widespread logo placement
- Text messaging
- Fun and interactive promotions
- Embedding products, brands or logos within games, video games or websites
- Online and offline games and books (e.g. Club Kellogg’s Online Games)
Food is big business: more corporations are focused on aggressive marketing strategies to kids.
- Today, marketing to children is seamless, sophisticated and often interactive. This is a much more aggressive and impactful than 10 to 15 years ago.
- The line between ads and children’s entertainment has blurred, with marketing messages injected into movies, activity books, toys, contests in schools, cellphone ringtones, apps, movies, cartoons, music videos, websites, video games, and more.
- Food and beverage companies create online “branded environments” where children can sign-up and find videos, games, quizzes, contests, and “advergames” (video games blended with marketing and logo placement).
- Digital marketing schemes frequently encourage children to invite their friends to visit, engage, join, share. This is called viral marketing and the company is using children as their brand ambassadors.
- A Canadian study showed that 83% of food and beverage companies’ websites targeted children under 12. Most had video games and membership opportunities.
Food and beverage companies can also track behaviours online. This empowers companies to:
- Understand the power of various marketing techniques
- Create personalized behavioural profiles that appeal to children
- Deliver advertising that targets a child’s specific interests.
Why are Children the target?
- Children have tremendous buying power. Canadian children age nine to 14 spend $2.9 billion annually.
- Children influence family purchases. Children influence more than $1 trillion of spending in North America per year. Marketers call this “kidfluence” or “pester power” and research shows that children’s first requests are made at around age two.
- Companies profit from fostering brand loyalty and creating “lifelong customers.” In the book, “Brandchild: Remarkable Insights Into the Minds of Today’s Global Kids & Their Relationships with Brands, ” some of the world’s leading branding and marketing experts remark:
“A lifetime customer may be worth $100,000 to a retailer, making effective ‘cradle-to-grave’ strategies extremely valuable.” (Lindstrom et al., “Brand Child,” Kogan Page Limited, 2003, Page 193)
Why Stop Marketing to Children and Youth?
Children are uniquely vulnerable to marketing:
- Before age five, most children cannot distinguish ads from unbiased programming.
- Those under eight do not understand the intent of marketing messages and believe what they see.
- By age 10 to 12, children understand that ads are designed to sell products, but they are not always able to be critical of these ads.
Teens are also vulnerable:
- Adolescents are overwhelmed by hormonal changes and the part of their brain that controls inhibition or self-restraint (the prefrontal cortex) is not fully developed. This increases their vulnerability to marketing.
- Teens are particularly susceptible to digital marketing (transmitted to personal computers, tablets and smartphones) since it blurs the lines between marketing and entertainment, arouses their emotions and can derail their ability to make good decisions.