Emerging media has resulted in a shift in marketers’ use of promotional tactics, this raises important questions about the use of persuasion and whether or not children can comprehend it. The skillet needed to recognize a Pepsi commercial and its purpose and Pepsi in a video game are quite different thought processes. Can children understand the difference between the two? If not, does this qualify as unethical?
The 2014 study Tween’s Knowledge of Marketing Tactics, Skeptical Beyond Their Years set out to determine how children between the ages of 8 and 12 respond to marketing tactics.
The purpose of the study was to update and extend the current understandings of children’s persuasion knowledge. Little is known about their awareness of new promotional marketing tactics, the most recent study related to youth’s knowledge of marketing tactics was published in the mid to late 1990s and it focused exclusively on television advertisements.
So how well do children comprehend emerging media? Can they understand that an app for breakfast cereal is a marketing tactic? Do they view this app in the same nature that they do a television ad? Do they understand that Facebook is another way for brands to advertise, just like a commercial?
The study found that covert marketing tactics are difficult for this age group to recognize, particularly among those age 12 and younger. (Freeman & Shapiro, 2014).
Doesn’t this make the $17 billion that is spent on targeting tweens annually dirty money?
Freeman, Dan., Shapiro, Stewart. (2014, March). Tween’s Knowledge of Marketing Tactics Skeptical Beyond Their Years. Journal of Advertising Research. DOI: 10.2501/JAR-54-1-044-055.