Does my child really need three pairs of branded trousers, when I know he will outgrow them in 6 months? How do we teach our kids the value of money?
How do we tell them that a brand is just a name and brands make millions selling the same thing that you could buy at one tenth the cost in the neighbourhood shop?
BRANDS KNOW THEIR TARGETS WELL
With children younger and younger getting hooked to social media and television, big brands have realised that they have a great potential market, which is yet to be tapped fully. Big brands are spending billions of dollars on marketing to children. As per a research conducted in 2009, companies spent $17 billion, in 2009, advertising for children, doubling that of 1992. Brands are aware of the impressionable minds of children, and seem to take full advantage of the time spent by children watching TV, inserting commercials, and giving children the feeling that buying a branded eraser will make them popular in school or eating a particular brand of cereals will make them smarter.
WHAT ARE PARENTS DOING ABOUT IT
Parents seem to be struggling to find a middle path, as far as buying branded products in concerned. It seems that parents are buying long term specific items which need assurance of quality from branded companies, while everyday things like clothes, shoes or toys, are something which parents are ready to spend much lesser and for practical reasons that children will outgrow them soon.
DO CHILDREN ASK FOR BRANDED PRODUCTS
Children in today’s world are definitely much more aware of their surroundings than a generation before. The exposure to social media and iPads and television, which does have its positive effects, also seems to be detrimental in some ways. Children as young as eight years, seem to be aware of what a brand is and how branded products are considered superior to the non-branded ones. And children are definitely affected by advertisements. Smita Beohar, whose son is 6 years, says that “These days he does watch the advertisements and asks for the same things, but per se, he doesn’t know much about brands.” While the younger children may not be aware of ‘brands’, tweens and teens are definitely exposed to the ‘brand’ culture. Asking for iPads or iPods as a special birthday present or asking for a Garmin watch no longer seems to be taboo for teens. Peer comparison and an urge to ‘part of the group’ makes children want more ‘branded’ products.
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO ABOUT IT
One of the best ways to teach children about ‘brand’ value is to lead by example. Rena says that “In my view the parents/family is the major source of a child’s ability to engrain this differentiation (between branded and non-branded products). Truly the most frequent source of knowledge is peer / friends; but the family is the final checkpoint.” Aarti has a very interesting take on how to teach children about branded products. She suggests that “I personally think that the concept of value of money can be taught without reaching the level of brands. When my daughter asks for a third eraser, I ask her to give me three reasons as to why she wants it and she thinks long and hard about it and realises she doesn’t need it.”
Parents need to educate children two key aspects – choosing products wisely which serve the purpose and not be swayed by the brand names, and secondly understand the importance of finding value in very product which is bought.
As parents it is very important to teach our children that whether branded or not, what matters is whether the product proves its functionality. It is important to inculcate in our children what needs and wants are and how branded product companies, often use our sense of misconception between the two, to sell their products at a price, just by adding a tag name to it.
Companies will continue to target children to sell products, but it is for parents to teach children to think carefully before buying products, which may not really need to be branded at all.