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Marketing To Children Is A Waste Of Time! Or Is It?

by | Jan 14, 2014 | Brand Management

One of the most important decisions a marketer has to make is where he or she will allocate a limited marketing budget. How much money should be spent on branding? How much money should be spent on which product or services? And, the question I will be talking about today, what demographic should be the target market?

One school of thought is that it’s best to invest money towards adults and parents because these are the people who have the money to spend. Another school of thought is to advertise to the children because they will influence the adults to spend money. Before I give you my opinion, let me share a few recent conversations that my husband, Eric, and I have had with Paris, our 6 year old daughter.

Conversation 1

A few weeks ago, on his way out the door to leave for the grocery store, Eric yelled back to see if anyone needed anything. Paris replied, “Yes Daddy. I need some Febreze and OxiClean.”

Eric then took Paris by the hand and showed her where we had other air freshener spray. With a confused look on her face, she turned to Eric and said, “But Daddy, you don’t understand, I have to have Febreze because it doesn’t mask the smell!”

Trying to hide our smiles, Eric and I looked at each other knowing there was no point in trying to distract our daughter from OxiClean. What could Eric do other than come home from the grocery store with a can of Febreze and a canister of OxiClean?

Conversation 2

On another occasion while Paris and I were at the grocery store to buy some fruit juices for her lunches, she quickly spotted the section that contained TruMoo. At that moment, all of her attention was diverted from choosing the flavor of juices to TruMoo. “Mommy, mommy. I can’t have juice. I have to drink TruMoo. It has less sugar and more vitamins. The commercial told me so.”

Shaking my head in amazement, I looked over at Paris and replied, “Maybe you shouldn’t watch so many commercials.”
That is when Paris informed me “I have to watch commercial. That’s where I learn everything.”

Conversation 3

To be honest, although I vividly recall the conversation while watching TV with Paris, I don’t remember the exact product or the details. The conversation went like this.

Paris’s eyes got wide as she expressed her need to have product x. “Mommy, I just have to have product x. Look if you buy it now it only costs x amount. But wait mommy, please buy it now because I can get two and also get blah blah blah for free.”

This conversation took place soon after Christmas and the last thing she needed was more toys. So I informed Paris that mommy didn’t have the money to buy that for her right now and maybe we could get it for her birthday. Paris is an extremely brilliant child; so she said, “OK mommy, just order me the free blah blah blah then. Free means it doesn’t cost any money.”

Do I feel bad that since I don’t remember the product I won’t be able to buy it for her birthday? Not at all. She has long forgotten about that product as well. Every time she sees a new toy commercial we have a very similar conversation.

My Opinion

Back to the original question – is marketing to children a waste of time? Based on the experiences I have with my daughter, in my opinion, no. However, I also need to emphasize that there really is not clear cut answer to this question. There are many elements to take into consideration when making these budget allocation decisions.

Before making any decisions regarding marketing budget distribution I strongly recommend investing the time and resources into developing a thorough Marketing and Brand Strategy. If you do not have the internal capabilities, consider hiring a company like DirectiveGroup to assist. We are always here to help you maximize your marketing dollars and achieve financial success.


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