February 25th, 2014
Marketing and advertising to children: the issues at stake
By Bo Viktor Nylund
In today’s complex commercial world, children are increasingly recognized and behaving as an independent consumer group. With discretionary income to spend and influence on family purchases, children are a market force on the rise and consequently, a target audience for marketing and advertisements. But what messages are being directed at children and how will these messages affect their cognitive development and shape their lives?
While children are able to differentiate between marketing and other forms of communication from a young age, they’re more vulnerable to manipulation through advertising messages and prone to accepting such messages as truthful and unbiased. Marketing tactics and advertising can lead children to adopt certain consumer behaviour which can result in negative impacts on children’s physical and mental health. One such negative consequence of child- and youth-targeted marketing is obesity which is increasing rapidly in both developed and developing countries. Obesity has been linked to the consumption of energy-dense, micronutrient-poor products that are high in fat, sugar, salt and which are marketed directly to children.