TV advertising has emerged as the most innovative and an effective means of communicating with the customers. It has grown increasingly sophisticated, elaborative and highly personal in nature. Advertisers can fine tune a particular message, intrude the human minds and generate a desired response.
In recent years, children’s market has become very important to manufacturers and marketers. They are the main focus in any form of advertising and their role in advertising is increasing day by day. Exorbitant amount of money and efforts are being spent on advertising to reach this segment.
There are many aspects that make children an important segment. They are indulging in independent shopping at a much younger age than the earlier generations, and have an increasing influence on their families’ purchase (though their contribution varies by product category). Children as young as three years old develop an ability to recognize advertising and by the age of 7 or 8 years, they are capable of understanding exactly what advertisers are trying to achieve and by ten, children become adept critics and prove to be a tough audience to please (Rossiter and Robertson, 1976).
Marketers use all possible tactics to muster the attention of the children which may include illegal, dirty or underhand tricks, promoting untrue claims and reliance on false information. There has been a growing concern about the effect of TV advertising on the juvenile minds of the children. Parents are really concerned as they believe that children are like a sponge that absorbs things easily, hence they are concerned with the immediate and the long term impact the TV advertising would have on the overall development of their children. Parents are of the opinion that TV advertising makes children materialistic, aggressive, eccentric, rude, violent and sometimes intolerant about the world around them.
The above-mentioned concerns regarding TV advertising to children has made it imperative for the parents to think seriously and undertake certain concrete measures to try and limit influence of TV advertising on children. Some parents are of the opinion that it is the responsibility of the government to enforce strict regulations and control over TV advertising. On the other hand, some researchers consider that it is the responsibility of the parents to mediate and safeguard the interests of their children (Nathanson et al., 2002).
A great amount of research on advertising over the past few decades has focused on the construct, ‘Attitude towards advertising,’ which was first introduced by (Bauer and Geyser, 1968). Subsequently the researchers have tried to focus on different dimensions of attitude by targeting specific populations. However, attitude of parents towards TV advertising directed at children has not fancied many investigators, particularly in India. Whatever research is available has been conducted in developed countries.
There are some findings that which could be of interest to marketers, parents and schools. The most important thing is that they cannot treat children from both the domicile as one mass for targeting messages at them. They are different in respect to their culture and family environment. The study has certain implications which are mentioned hereby;
Implications from parent’s point of view
1. Parents should restrict their children viewing time for television up to 1-2 hour per day. Efforts should be made by the parents to encourage their children to take part in educational and sports activities, so that their growing dependence on TV can be reduced resulting in their reduced exposure to television advertisements.
2. The exposure of media and advertising is making children feel immense social pressure on them as they feel in order to become successful they should possess material things and satisfaction lies in these materialistic things. They feel that to become successful one should look good and rich in life. This may become the reason for stress in their life. Parents have to play an important role in guiding the children in adoption of traditional and western values as displayed by media and advertisement. Parents should counsel their children to make differentiation between reality and imagination.
3. Although much parents in both domicile felt that media and advertising content are negative, still media have some positive aspects which need to be explored by the parents to their children. This will help the children to use media and advertising content in positive way.
4. Parents should not allow child to have a television in his or her bedroom separately. Television should be at main location where all family members may watch it jointly.
5. Parents should put efforts to inculcate saving habits among children. As, saving is also considered as way of balancing one ‘s life. They should guide their children that savings too satisfies many important needs. This habit will help them in developing planned spending, probably for expensive personal items in future and in latter part of life will enhance their dignity and feeling of security and contentment.
6. The amount of parental pestering that occur can be reduced if children are more usually involved in family purchase decisions and if parents discuss television and advertising with them.
Implications from school point of view
7. The schools should introduce some lectures in the curriculum of the students which can prepare them with such skills through which they may be able to approach the media especially advertising critically.
8. The schools should conduct some kind of workshop in which children should be taught about the bad effects of junk and fast food ads. They should educate the children about obesity and overweight problems. Educational programme that promoted nutritional food consumption will reduce the impact of advertising for sugared foods.
9. School authorities should conduct some kind of educational programs to improve children ‘s advertising literacy, so that they can understand the temporal course of the persuasive process and the relative effectiveness and appropriateness of particular advertising tactics. This persuasive knowledge becomes increasingly valuable to a growing number of everyday tasks and goals,
such as making increasingly significant and numerous buying decisions, establishing and maintaining an independent identity, managing more complex social relationship, and facing more diverse and subtle persuasive tactics than in childhood and early adolescence.
10. Schools can adopt policies to refuse to accept sponsorships from companies and to disallow food beverage marketing on campuses. They can mandate and implement adequate physical education and nutrition education programs.
Implementation from marketer’s point of view
11. As, marketers are always interested in targeting children directly (rather than through their parents) with child oriented messages, logos, characters etc., that emphasis on cool, fun image. Perhaps this strategy is not appropriate for all children. Our result suggest that children has less personal spending power and more rely on their parents saying about the product advertised and are less influenced by irrational factors. This cool and hip ‘band image appeal might not be effective with certain segments of the children ‘s market, especially those who are less independent in their marketplace behaviors. Marketers might develop strategies that attempt to bridge the gap between children and parents, such as creating products, programming and activities that involve both children and adults. They should try to organize their events, such as grand openings, benefits, and rides, so as to create a family- oriented atmosphere with activities for all ages that instill positive brand- oriented experiences in children.
12. Marketers and advertisers have a dual responsibility in this new world of children marketing. They should place the product in appropriate contexts for use as meal components, encouraging play and developmental skills and entertainment that is age and theme appropriate. Children marketers and advertisers should raise their hands and contribute their talent in prosocial programmes and advertising. The future for children and children marketers will be about products, pitches and promotion that balance fun with focus on positive, healthy lifestyle choices for kids as they grow to be citizens of tomorrow.
13. The findings also indicate that children increased likeability with regard to advertisement of particular product category increases children ‘s level of influence on family purchase decisions. This presents a great opportunity to marketers to increased children influence with regard to those product categories that are not intuitively relevant to children (like appliances, furniture or automobiles) by encouraging the purchase and discussion of these products by making conscious efforts to make them more ―children-friendly‖, so that it appeals to children and parents both
14. The current study provides insights for marketers and advertisers to select the appropriate media to reach urban as well as rural Indian Children. As, the study suggest that broadcast media exposure was more among urban children, as compared to rural children. So, domicile or location is a major variable that should be used by marketers of children products to segment the market. This research suggest that rural children might be more effectively targeting using strategies that stimulate word – of – mouth, print media and other social interactions. Urban children on the other hand might be more effectively targeted using non-personal sources, especially screen media and broadcast media
15. Marketers should understand the corporate social responsibility and their communication targeted children should always involve ethical and moral aspects with the purpose of protecting children. They should resort to self- regulation. Since young children have a limited capability for evaluating the credibility of what they watch, a special responsibility lies upon marketers to protect them from susceptibilities.
16. Marketers could encourage deeper family discussions about food- related health issues and provide the families with concrete issues to talk about (e.g. health and cooking time among parents, and health and popularity among children). This might make parents and children understand each other ‘s motives and barriers for food preferences and choices better, thereby, solve many conflicts.
17. To reduce the switching behavior among children when ads are broadcasted on the TV channels, it is important for advertisers to decide which programs is most preferred by the children in this age group and show ads during that programs. Also, it is recommended that TV channels should shorten long ads breaks between programs by dividing them up and making short breaks within programs. Moreover, the simultaneous presentation of ads and TV programs by splitting the screen to include both ads and programs will also help in reducing zapping. Some recent studies in USA has shown that repeated brief images of the brand have significant influence on reducing TV ads avoidance than showing the brand for long periods at the beginning or end of the advertisement.
18. Advertisers should play due consideration to enjoyment aspects of TV ads, as reported by children in the study. They should use all possible means to make TV ads more attractive, interesting and enjoyable. This can be done by developing more than one ads design, pre-testing them before broadcasting and selecting the more enjoyable. The same as should not be repeated to excess, to avoid boredom. Advertisers should also change ads more often, to reduce consumer boredom and should produce more creative advertising which breaks free from the advertising clutter.
19. To typically deal with more nutrient motivated criticisms that in the study parents have raised, marketers might consider following steps;
· Increasing media expenditure to parental audiences, to present messages which address their nutritional concerns and emphasizes nutrition information on products and brands.
· Employing nutrition and health themes in promotional appeals especially rational appeals in contest and premium offers. Games might be devised that could teach children about basic nutritional concepts. This will help to develop the interest of children in the product and win the confidence of parents.
20. Direct appeals to children to be more nutrition conscious and responsible consumers. Instead of describing the products as ‘chocolatey, rich and sweet ‘, they can change the version of appeals and it can be said to be ‘healthful‘vitaminy and nutritional‘. These versions will be acceptable to parents too.
SCOPE FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
· The scope of the study has been limited to the city of Visakhapatnam. Elaborative study can be carried out by including more cities in the sample. Inter-state study can provide a better picture of the attitude that the Indian parents have regarding TV advertising directed at children.
· The present study has only taken into consideration the urban and the economically stronger strata of the society. Future exhaustive studies can be carried out by including rural and other segments of the society. A comparative research can be done across different segments.
· The study used survey method for data collection to investigate the children influence patterns in family decision making. However, in future the researchers can use observation approach to measure the amount of influence displayed by all members of the family in the purchase decisions. Observational data can be derived from videotaped recordings of family interactions during a simulated decision-making situation. This method of data collection techniques can provide better insight into decision-making process in the family and give results which may be contradictory to survey methods used normally in the family decision making researches.
· Parental perspective has been taken in this study whereas, if self-regulatory mechanism has to be adopted then the viewpoint of the advertisers and marketers needs to be considered for further research.