A fun family trip to Toys "R" Us can quickly turn into a grabby nightmare when kids call out for all the newest name-brand toys. And vendors know the power of "I want," especially when it's voiced by a 4-year-old. But have marketers gone too far in targeting their products to young consumers? According to a study from the Center for a New American Dream, a nonprofit organization advocating responsible consumption, 87 percent of parents say yes. "Parents feel their kids are being assaulted," says Eric Brown of the center. Commercial messages at school, on television and in every other possible outlet have kids putting possessions highest on their lists of priorities, according to Brown.
So how does an entrepreneur walk that fine line between marketing their groovy products to kids and offending wary parents? "The best ads are the ones that treat parents with respect and encourage communication between kids and their parents," says Brown, "[They also] educate people about the real properties of the goods being sold." In other words, tell the truth, respect the kids and remember that parents are the key.
And don't buy into the notion that marketing to children is all-bad. "Products help us project who we want to be," says Rachel Geller, a chief strategic officer with Geppetto Group, an advertising agency and marketing consultancy specializing in kids and teens. "Why shouldn't kids have that same opportunity?"
Center For A New American Dream, (877) 68-DREAM, http://www.newdream.org