I suspect this this a question as parents we have asked ourselves a lot, do we buy certain toys / presents for our children through the results of marketing or pester power by our children themselves and are they really needed?
We at home have an undeniable large amount of toys for the two boys from larger things like electric bikes to the very small single Hot Wheel’s car. If I am honest they have too much, and I suspect around 90 plus percent have not been played with more than sixty minutes each. So why then do we keep buying things? Is it the fact that we as parents get pulled in by the numerous ads as we are forced to watch with children’s programs or is it the influence brands have on our children which turns into pester power at home or while out shopping?
Children nowadays are bombarded much like ourselves through numerous channels with a far greater range of brands and products than we ever were as children, when Action Man and Tonka were it. Consider what happens now? They play a game on the tablet and an ad pops up, they sit on the internet searching educational YouTube videos and ads pop up, they watch children’s TV and every 5 minutes there is an ad break and Christmas its seems is brought forward every year, so now it just merges into one long event. On top of this you have seasonal activities like Halloween, Easter, it’s no wonder they seems to constantly desire more and more.
All of this has an effect. When I was a child presents happened twice a year; on your birthday and at Christmas, in between you got treats not presents. This however does seem to be the case anymore for a lot of children, and this has meant that the joy of birthday and Christmas seems to have been lost to some extent. It certainly has been diminished for ours with toys being given all year round.
I have therefore found myself asking more and more why, and did we let this happen? Are we one of a multitude of families reacting to the multiple marketing messages we get every day? Do they need these toys, are we victims to a certain extent of the ‘must have’ complex built by marketing and pester power?
Believe me it’s not like we massively spoil our children and compared to other children we know, we might even be considered restrained. However things like travelling a lot has had an effect, with ‘guilt presents’ from the returning daddy (not good if you used to travel virtually every week) and being an expat with visitors and family giving presents, have all accumulated to toys becoming a regular occurrence.
Add to this the world of children’s brands and for them becoming a norm to our world, something I certainly did not realise till an old friend visited and wanted to bring a gift for the boys. I mentioned they like Ninja Turtles and Power Ranges to an answer of ‘What are those?’ I had forgotten there is a world outside of children’s brands that people actually exist in! However a quick Google and our friend was well informed and actually got 2 great gifts that lasted well over the hr. and are still favoured today!
So why did I start to think about this and question ourselves? Well yesterday we were having a BBQ and a game started with the boys which literally consisted off an empty Tropicana container and throwing it to each other in different ways; up high, spinner etc. This lasted well over an hr and they had as much fun as the most expensive toy they have with their pile of toys was not even looked at through this game.
To add to this it’s also been a long weekend here in Jamaica with the boys at home for 4 days and the younger one entertaining himself for hrs. over several days with literally a large cardboard box, toilet tissue and plain sheets of paper on which he drew scary faces to create a booby trap to avoid us getting his things.
We have always known it and perhaps lost our way a bit with the multitude of toys now available, but surely the power of a child’s imagination is the best toy they have got.
So should we not try and forget sometimes all the marketing and brands we are bombarded with on a regular basis and get back to good old basics. A simple object and their imagination. It’s not that they will never get another branded toy but next time I know I will be making more effort in thinking about how we can get them to use best toy they have and it’s for life – their imagination
This year rather than stressing about have they got what they have seen on TV or an ad while playing on an app, perhaps the biggest surprise could be a cardboard box and the fire this stirs in their imagination...
Just wonder how many of us would be brave enough to do this? Try doing s search on 'cardboard box children activites' and you will be surprised the volume of content that exits.
In summary brands have already realised this insight with several commercials based on it and perhaps the reason why toys are always placed in cardboard boxes? The one I like best is from a courier company where you see the child unpacking the present at Christmas, only to place aside the contents and play with the empty cardboard box. A classic and one that says all I have above in 30 seconds!
My name is Daymonde and I am a multiple award winning international marketer. After graduating in Applied Economics, I started my career In London working in Market Research. Graduating during the financial crash meant it was not the best degree to have but my passion was always marketing and advertising so I looked to move into that field.