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Marketing wars for children

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Intimidation, nostalgia, crowd effect, celebrity brand promotion, “miracle” additives to improve the look and feel of food are just a few of the tools that today’s marketers use. They scan our brains and access our deepest fears, dreams, weaknesses and desires. In order to increase sales, marketers are looking for new methods, many of which will seem unethical and even intimidating to you. Read about what tools marketing uses to influence the psyche of our children in this article! 

Rock and Roll or Classic?

Scientists have known for a long time that children hear mother’s speech while in the womb; in other words, the fetus in the womb hears the mother’s voice. It was also generally accepted that the internal sounds of the mother’s body (heartbeat, amniotic fluid noise) drown out all external noises, such as music. However, research shows that this is not entirely true; Moreover, future newborns, being in the womb, do not just hear music – this music leaves them with strong and lasting impressions, under the influence of which their tastes are formed in hood. 

Minna Huotilainen, Research Fellow at the Collegium of Advanced Studies at the University of Helsinki, has this to say: 

“Music leaves very strong memories for the fetus. If the expectant mother often listens to certain music, the embryo will learn to recognize and prefer this music to any other. ” 

Moreover, she adds: 

“The unborn child will automatically develop the same musical taste as his mother, since all maternal hormones are transferred to the fetus.” 

If you think about how many melodies, sounds and songs are associated with brands and products, the picture takes on a less idyllic tone. Indeed, there is already evidence that listening to commercials and songs in the womb tends to favor these songs – and perhaps the brands they are associated with – later in life. In other words, as soon as we are born, we may already be biologically programmed to prefer sounds and music that we experienced in the womb. 

Sensitivity to suggestion during pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of the periods when women are most susceptible to suggestion. The enterprising management of one of the largest shopping malls in America decided to take this feature into service and experiment with the subtle effects of smells and sounds. First, Johnson & Johnson baby powder was sprayed in all clothing departments. Then they added a cherry flavor in the food and beverage departments. Then they began playing soothing music from the days when today’s pregnant women were born to awaken positive childhood memories (a popular tactic that we will talk about in our next articles). 

A little over a year after the experiment, the company began receiving letters from mothers about the amazing impact the mall had on their now newborn babies. As soon as the babies were in the stores of the network, they calmed down. If outside they whimpered or screamed, then, once in the mall, they instantly subsided – an effect that, according to the testimony of 60 percent of mothers, did not appear anywhere else, even in places with equally pleasant smells and sounds. Experiments like these can have a powerful impact on the next generation of shopping habits. 

Fast Food and Nutritional Supplements

Many pregnant women do not even suspect that everything they consume not only affects the development of the fetus, but also affects the habits of the unborn child. In other words, pregnant women who ate more gave birth to babies who are likely to eat excessively, even if their mothers were controlled by genetic, nutritional, and other behavioral factors. If the mother prefers healthy food, the baby will eat healthy food. 

As it turned out, the menu of a pregnant woman not only tunes the fetal’s senses to certain smells and tastes, but also physically transforms the fetal brain, creating a predisposition in the child for certain taste preferences. 

This largely explains the results of studies that have shown that if the mother ate a lot of food with garlic or vanilla flavor in the last three months of pregnancy, the newborn prefers milk that smells like garlic or vanilla over any other. 

Companies not only know this, but use this knowledge to their advantage. How? For example, Kopiko, a popular, successful brand of candy in the Philippines, sold in every family shop in every Philippine city, has found a way to conquer the taste buds of unborn babies. Wholesalers of this brand openly supply obstetricians and other doctors with Kopiko candies to distribute to pregnant women and women in labor in maternity wards. 

Your baby’s first words

Children under three represent an approximately $ 20 billion market. Yes, these are the same children who watch about 40 thousand commercials a year and who, as it turned out in the course of many years of research, know more names of brand characters than names of animals. Most parents are oblivious to the extent to which even one and a half year olds are able to pick up subtle (and less subtle) cues from the world around them about brands and products. 

What do you think is the first word that most children around the world understand? No, not “mom” and not “dad”. That word is McDonald’s (or Ronald), according to Brian Urbick, executive director of the Consumer Knowledge Center in Middlesex, UK. 

Children today are more exposed to media and advertising than ever before. By the age of three months, 40 percent of babies watch TV regularly, and this figure rises to 90 percent in 2-year-olds. And don’t forget about the ads that are bombarding toddlers from the Internet and video games, from mobile phones and billboards. 

All this makes a much stronger impression than one might imagine. By the age of six months, babies are able to form “mental images” of corporate logos and emblems. 

Even worse, babies, having barely learned to speak, can claim certain brands by naming them. In one noteworthy study, a child under two years old chanted the mantra: “This is Coca-Cola, this is Coca-Cola!” 

Gillette and Always – the gateway to life

Recent research shows that both boys and girls today reach puberty a year earlier than they did decades ago – a phenomenon called precocious puberty in marketing circles. So what? And the fact that puberty means products – razors, shaving cream, facial foam, anti-acne lotion, deodorants, cosmetics, etc. And, we can assure you, companies use this with the greatest benefit for themselves. 

How to raise a complete alcoholic? Start at an early age by bringing to the market sweet, aromatic, carbonated drinks of pleasant colors (with a small percentage of alcohol content), which the manufacturers themselves call “alcopop”. Although they appear to be intended for consumers, research by the American Medical Association has shown that alcopop is most popular with thirteen-year-old girls and that these seemingly sweet cocktails account for 29 percent of all alcohol consumed by this group. 

Buy a car for your child

Believe it or not, even gas stations and car makers are starting to target kids as their target audience. 

Shell’s marketing team has long partnered with LEGO to create a strong association between the Shell brand and LEGO toys, and in a BP cartoon ad, children drive up to a gas station in a BP car, singing in chorus. In a Porsche commercial, a little boy sits in a classroom dreaming of life, speed and Porsche cars. 

Buyit! Well, buyit! 

The younger the age when we start using a brand or product, the more likely we will continue to use it for many, many years to come. But that’s not the only reason companies are targeting their marketing and advertising to an increasingly youthful audience. Another reason: Children themselves can be a marketing tool through what is called “begging”. 

Children “have power over family spending, they have power over grandparents, they have power over nannies, and so on, and so on, and so on,” Professor McNeill told the New York Times in a recent interview. 

By the way, if you recently visited the Apple brand salon, you noticed that it looks like an international kindergarten. It turns out that Apple, the favorite brand of children (as the New York Times noted in 2010, “Apple’s iPhone has become the most effective tool in the history of mankind to help calm a too playful toddler”) offers a variety of applications especially for children, for example: Toddler Teasers, Baby Fun! Infant Arcade, Peek-A-Boo, Pocket Zoo and many more. Sure, these apps are heavenly for a lot of weary parents to keep their kids busy so Mom and Dad can get some quiet time, but it’s also one of Apple’s many secret strategies for recruiting a new generation of consumers. 

It just so happened that in the modern world, children are exposed to brands every second. You yourself can realize this if you try to count how many logos and veiled advertising messages are in your apartment. There is no getting away from this today. 

But you can develop a restrictive strategy (moderation in everything: television, the Internet, shopping, using smartphones, etc.), which, together with the knowledge gained from this article, will help protect you and your children from all sorts of addictions, experiences and extra spending. Be careful, take care of the psyche of your children!

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