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Why children are used in advertisements?How they bcome the targeted young consumers of the products?

 
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Children, teenagers and youth constitute a very important consumer segment for the market. Their consumption habits are unique and their purchase decisions are based on popular trends, brand image, use of new technology, flavor of food products, and style.

The market also realizes that young consumers have a propensity to consumer junk food and prefer them over traditional forms of food. This characteristic is exploited by the market by associating convenience and a brand image with junk food like colas, pizzas, and fast-food joints.

There are three major brands of toothpaste in India, viz. Colgate, Pepsodent and Close Up. All three of them compete with each other to capture maximum market share. In order to achieve this, they not only target children as consumers but also feature them in their advertisements to attract other young consumers. Colgate, for e.g., targets young children in the age group of 5 to 12 and offers free cartoon booklets along with toothpastes. Pepsodent vies for the same consumer segment and depicts some children relishing snacks, confectionery and sweets, while others are scolded by their mothers for having done the same thing. This advertisement makes children believe that consumers who use Pepsodent are immune to any tooth decay because of the superior quality of the product. This claim is unauthenticated and attempts to mislead children.

Close Up, on the other hand, does not perceive children as its target audience. Instead, it targets teenagers and the youth. It creates a brand image of confidence and popularity for young consumers between the age group of 16-30. Its advertisements constantly feature successful friendships and romances between Close-Up users.

Millions of rupees are spent on advertising a product which costs as little as Rs. 30 and is considered ordinary by most consumers. From pushing toothpaste on neem sticks to advertising in the ‘Kumbh mela’, the market can go to any extent to boost its sales. After a point, the sales tend to stagnate. This negative development is offset by constantly repackaging the present product and introducing new products. For instance, Colgate has a number of brands in the market, like Colgate Total, Colgate Dental Cream, Cibaca, Colgate Gel and Colgate Herbal.

Young consumers are special targets of the junk-food industry. The market knows that fast food is addictive and once young people get used to having their fat, salts and sugar rich food, they will become their consumers for life. Also, young consumers have the indirect purchasing power of their parents, which makes them a very lucrative consumer segment. Thus it does not come as a surprise that the market spends huge sums of money at advertising campaigns alone. Some of their marketing figures are as follows:

-> $ 2 billion is roughly spent on advertising to young consumers every year.

-> The children's direct influence in parental purchases was estimated to be around $ 188 billion dollars in 1997, up from $132 billion in 1990, $50 billion in 1984 and $20 billion in the mid-70s.

-> The market for children aged 4 to 12 years alone rakes in some $ 30 billion annually.

The junk food sector attaches images and perception of fun, enjoyment and prestige with their products and eating outlets. They also use popular film stars and sports personalities to strike an instant rapport with young consumers.

Young consumers should consume in moderation and buy a product on the basis of its quality and merit and not because of the brand image. Students also need to see beyond the veil of advertising, brand pushing and market influences, to identify their real needs.

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