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Rebecca Jackson: Kids, Fun and Sales – The Art of Managed Childhood Excitement

We all have seen the uncontrolled power of childhood excitement, ranging from squeals of joy on Christmas morning to a kicking fit in the toy aisle. Used for good or evil, it’s a powerful force in influencing family decision-making. Our challenge is, how can the public relations and advertising industry use that power to drive buying decisions, dinner table conversations or classroom interactions?  Children are no longer bystanders in buying conversations; they are leaders!

Children of all ages love advertising’s bright colors and catchy phrases. The brands children see and know are trusted, like a good friend! Sometimes, the engaging words and the shiny new product can be just too inviting to pass up. We can all relate to the plight of Woody in Disney’s “Toy Story” as Buzz Lightyear arrives on scene!

As inexperienced buyers, children believe what they see, read and are told. Children are new to the buying game, and often have unrealistic expectations. The discussion will inevitably be shared on the playground where the most aggressive product evaluations are carried out during recesses and at after school play-dates. Peer pressure will ultimately show up at school as product recognition and desire increases.

More and more parents are inviting children to make buying choices. Conversations about the latest toy or the playground evaluations are taking place at the dinner table. Adults are living the results of advertising aimed at children. Many children quickly pick up tv or radio jingles, without even knowing what the product is. The product playing field is captivating and inviting to these youthful and inexperienced buyers, many times bringing the parents along for the ride.

More than previous generations, advertisers need to understand this change in family purchasing dynamics. Children want to be talked to like adults and included in family purchasing decisions. It is the job of the advertising industry to capture the magic of the sparkle in a child’s eye or the parent’s checkbook to prevent a toy-aisle episode. We do that by remembering just how much pull a child really has in the purchasing decision.

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