Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kids: The Most Impressionable Target Audience

Maddie Kuhn

In Andrea Canning's story "Non-Alcoholic Beer Instead of Juice Boxes?", she writes that the products being marketed to children recently are too much like products that are popular with adults. Products like cell phones, toy cars, and even non-alcoholic beer are appealing to children who want to be more like their parents at an earlier age.

With three siblings under the age of 8, I know how impressionable children are to commercials. During breaks in iCarly, nearly any product that they see (that is gender-appropriate), they will tell each other "I'm getting that for Christmas." Young boys do not understand that they cannot assemble a two-story house made up of tiny Lego pieces in less than 30 seconds, like in the commercial. Even if they have help from their dad.

I believe that children are interested in products that are presented to them. If advertisers show children having a great time at a party with their friends and family drinking non-alcoholic beer, other children will want to emulate that. They do not understand how strange this idea is, they just want to be a part of the fun. If ads portraying children using cell phones and expensive electronics were taken off of the air, children probably would not think twice about it.

The Canning article quotes Prof. Lou Aynard, a psychologist with the Family Outreach Network, saying that children are not miniature adults, even though parents may treat them as such. However, advertisers are increasingly targeting children's desires to be more like their 'hip' parents or like people they see on television ads or programs. One company that has received very public scrutiny against them for this action is Abercrombie.

Abercrombie has always been a clothing line that has pushed the limits of decency. Their magazine, television and in-store ads usually show models wearing barely anything. Clothes are as short, tight, and skimpy as possible. However, they crossed a line with the public when word broke of their Abercrombie Kids line offering a line of bikinis with a padded bra, marketing to girls as young as 7. The product seemed to encourage young girls to be sexy, which should not be their main concern at that age. They still have some childhood left to live. I did not see this product advertised on children's television channels. I do not know if television channels would accept an ad for that product. But, I wonder what my 7-year-old sister would say if she saw it. This Abercrombie bikini top is another example of how advertisers are marketing to children as mini-adults, not as a separate target market.

I believe that children should be encouraged to hold on to their child-like qualities for as long as possible. I know that as an older sister, I would not want my 7-year-old sister to get a cell phone, to wear a padded bathing suit top, or to drink non-alcoholic beer. Perhaps the times, the products marketed to children, and the definition of childhood is changing. However, I know I will refer back to the type of childhood I had, one where playing outside was a maximum and cell phones were non-existent, when I raise my own children.

No comments:

Post a Comment