In my last blog I wrote about my children’s first love of brands, how they fell in love and became lifelong advocates of a yellow horse and a simple tick, with no marketing gimmicks but purely through the innocence of a child’s mind and what they felt gave them something.
At this time of a child’s development is it fascinating seeing how they respond and interact with brands, there is nothing but innocent product desire. With both our children when we were buying them things like walkers, toys etc we would show 2 choices and let them decide. Which one they pointed to was the one we purchased, did they understand what we were asking, we could not say. What we can say though is that they always used these products extensively, there was no outside force affecting their decisions. I can safely say this innocence has now been lost forever and there is no going back.
Years ago I used to work on a children’s brands, it was the time when the term tweenagers had materialized, basically pre-teens having a desire to act and have the brands and products teenagers have. In short a desire for the child to become older as quickly as possible, however we all know we then reverse our psychology to wanting stay younger for as long as possible. Are we never happy for where we are in our stage of life?
Working on these brands it was all about creating a desire in the playground where every child wants what the other one has and turns this into pester power when they go home to the parents. At this stage we are talking about 8 to 11 year olds, nowhere near where my children are yet but it seems I am suffering the same fate and can understand how this story from my past is now me.
To cut a long story short, we had ran a Jurassic Park 3 promotion on a major FMCG brand, while out grocery shopping little did I realize it at the time but I witnessed my future! There was a poor mother with a child literally screaming they wanted the product I ran the promotion on as their friend had it at school, the mother clearly did not want the product but finally gave in just to keep her child quiet. How many times have we experienced this?
What age does the change happen and does it happen to early? The innocence of a brand has already been lost to my 4 year old, who will see an advert on television and just blurt out, ‘Daddy can I have that please’, not even knowing what it really is and why he even might want it. It’s not just that, even now it’s all become about what his friends have and why he has not got the same and then we add another layer which is his older brother. Of course he looks up to his older brother (18 months) and cannot accept why he cannot have the same even if it’s not right for him at that stage of development.
So what does this all add up to? Well, what I am experiencing is that my children literally from about the age of 2 or 3 started to be directly influenced by outside forces that creates a false desire for a brand or product. Imagine if I showed them a choice of 2 products now, it would not be based on innocence of youth but what have their friends have or what would make their friends jealous in the playground or has my brother got it? It’s no longer the innocence of seeing a flashy red sports car and falling for that yellow horse or the simplicity of a logo that is a tick.
It’s now all about a flashy ad, what their friends or brother have. I can understand completely why their school insist on all non-branded attire, they have official uniforms but for example the sports day shoes have to be plain white with no branding. At this sensitive age where they have lost the innocence and now it’s all about everyone else, it saves us parents a considerable amount of headaches.
The question is, are we marketing too early to children and not allowing them to be children and just revel in their basic product desire, rather than creating this false desire of what everyone else has. I just wonder how many toys, cereals, clothes etc they have that they only wanted for reasons beside their own and we as parents have given in and purchased them?
Food for thought and one that could have saved me and countless other parents a lot of money…
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.