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Marketing Techniques

Marketing to Children: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

1335 words7 min read
  • Name
    Sam Thomas

Kids constitute a significant demographic to marketers as they affect their parents' buying decisions as well as their substantial purchasing power, and they are future adult customers.

Whether or not businesses should market to children has been quite controversial during the last few years. In this article, we will address Marketing to Children: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

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Why Marketers Care About Kids

Children per year watch many commercials, and the number of commercials has been witnessing a remarkable rise. Also, marketers target kids either indirectly through their parents or directly because of the amount of money they spend. Children have a significant effect on their parents' spending habits and spend either their own money or their parents' money on many varieties of stuff.

Nowadays, because of reduced family sizes, dual incomes, and having children later in life, parents can afford more for their kids. With more disposable income, there is an enormous purchasing power that children bring to the market. And marketers and companies should not miss out on exploiting this.

Children develop brand loyalty and purchasing habits, and they have strong sticking power. Since shaping future buyers is easier than converting customers who purchase from rivals, smart marketers choose to cultivate a partnership with young-age consumers. Based on many findings from various studies, after age 8, children make most of their own purchasing decisions.

As well as investing their own money and shaping the buying patterns of their parents, children reflect the third form of marketing prospects- the future customer.

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The Dark Side of Marketing to Children

Plenty of organizations and institutions oppose ads to children. Let's find out the real problem with these.

Distinguishing Intent

Kids under the age of 7–8 can not distinguish the persuasive intent of ads. This implies that these kids don't know the commercial or ad they're watching is designed to sell them something, so they believe that the way ads appear is the way they are, true, and objective. It is unreasonable when attempting to capitalize on this.

Gender Stereotypes

Young children seek to explore their gender identities, and yet gender-stereotyped advertisements can prevent that. Kids are targeted with such gender-stereotyped and sometimes sexualized items. It's typical to see more violent films directly being marketed to boys, supporting the stereotype that it's appropriate for boys to be more violent, and it's not an issue.


Another concern is that violence-filled media is frequently promoted and marketed to kids. Children who see many violent media are more likely to perceive violence as an efficient way to solve disputes. Besides, violent toys are often advertised for young children.

The Correlation Between Food Advertising and Obesity

Obesity is a growing problem for children all around the world, especially in developed countries. Excessive consumption of non-nutritious foods, especially with the absence of healthier foods, is associated with obesity and deteriorating health.

On children's shows, the ad time devoted to food is almost entirely dominated by unhealthy food items like sweets and chips, snacks, candy, cereals, fast food. That exposure to these commercials may stimulate the intake of such products. More than half of the food items permitted for ads on the TV show that children's appeal does not comply with the U.S. recommended guidelines on nutrition. What's more, children are infrequently introduced to public service announcements or healthy food ads.

How to Market to Children Ethically

Given children being such an influential advertiser market, businesses may possibly not cease marketing to such easily convinced clients. In practice, businesses value children as they are bound to become loyal to a brand. Hence, it is without a doubt that businesses would still want to start advertising to children and potentially raise profit from this. Yet, to market ethically and to keep customer confidence, you should keep in mind the below guidelines.

Say No to Tricking Kids

Tricking occurs very often on mobile devices. Parents also use tablets and phones as a means of amusing children while handling other important tasks. There is an entire app market for teaching and playing with children, yet all of them have some advertising. Because kids frequently have little or no control over these devices, some deceitful app developers have advertisements that compel kids to click on them and shop online using their parent's money, thus getting out of the ad is difficult.

A nice rule of thumb is not to try to manipulate children into having something they don't like. Don't deceive, abuse, annoy, or confuse them; otherwise, you're going to hurt your brand's credibility with adults — the ones with the real money.

Never Target Adult Products to Kids

Children are the target of advertising and marketing of adult products such as tobacco, cars, and credit cards. Advertisers have a responsibility to help protect the youth by not using their ads to introduce them to adult themes. For example, policymakers everywhere developed legislation that prohibited tobacco companies from using cartoon mascots or airing advertisements on daytime television.

Guard Children Against Danger

It is not a terrible idea to market to kids. However, if children are your target audience, you have to ensure their safety.

If you are collecting the child's data or information, you must ensure it stays secure under any circumstance. For instance, if a teddy bear firm whose stored messages from kids to their parents were hacked, which could bring out children's names in public. This sort of data breach can put children in danger and can be a permanent stain on the credibility of business for the following years.

Another area to take into account is the video games marketing firms or children's online services. Children may enter their names or emails to sign up for service and the company must secure them. If emails are breached, people might start threatening or abuse them. Try to constantly improve your security procedures.

Create original content

Your platform should be incorporated by science, technology, engineering, and math, be it digital downloads of ebooks or in-game educational videos. As children nowadays are becoming smarter, any business that advertises to this very young demographic must help their young customers recognize and appropriately decode media messages they view.

Communicate with parents

Ensure that parents can easily see safety features and identify what their children have been doing. It would help if you prioritized transparency to allow parents to become the decision-makers.

Help Children Become Informed Consumers

Kids are the future. Future trends are also towards more educated customers, meaning content marketing will proceed to evolve. Rather than incentivizing children to make buying choices based on emotions, you should help them to become knowledgeable consumers. Encourage them to compare and research products. If you have good marketing content tailored for children, you'll witness a boost in revenue and a transformation in the business world.

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To sum up, marketing to kids may not highly be recommended as its risks overshadow the benefits. The mind of children is simple, so their decisions are easily affected by others.

Businesses must make a profit, yet they have a considerably lucrative demographic, which is adults. Children should have the freedom to be children. Try your best to protect them through ethical practices.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to leave a comment in the box below. We are glad to help you out. If you find this post useful, you can share this with your friends.

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