By Jessica Donaldson
Parents of five-year-olds beware! Retail chain store Target has released new plans to aim its marketing strategy directly at five-year-old ‘consumers’, who Target Australia’s Managing Director, Dene Rogers, says ‘begin to become independent and exercise their own choices’.
The store’s new marketing campaign identifies five-year-olds as an untapped market that have been missing out on a wide range of products, and can be reached via age-appropriate magazines, TV channels, and social media.
Rogers says “It’s our goal to captivate children through our marketing and excite them about our broad product range so that, ultimately, Target will become a first choice for children and parents alike.”
When it actually comes down to it, it will be parents who end up buying the products. And how will parents feel about the store after a prolonged ‘pester power’ attack from their children? Are they going to choose the store that turns their kids into nagging monsters over another store that doesn’t advertise directly to their children – time will tell.
But advertising to children isn’t new; children have been the objects of targeted advertising for longer than you might think. In April 1952 the first commercial aimed at children was aired on American television advertising Mr Potato Head toys. At the time the advertisement aired, the concept of advertising to children was revolutionary, and opened up the floodgates for countless advertisements to come.
What parents seem to struggle with about advertising aimed at children is whether this sort of targeted marketing is actually harmful to their children. Studies have shown that while parents may be concerned about the negative effects on their children, there is no apparent long-lasting effect.
Advertising Standards Authorities throughout the world police advertising and have strict conditions about what can be shown and at what time. The Australian Association of National Advertisers Code for Advertising and Marketing Communications to Children states that advertising or marketing communications to children ‘must not contain an appeal to Children to urge their parents or carers to buy a Product for them’.
This means that any advertising or marketing that Target direct at five-year-olds will have to be incredibly subtle and carefully worded. It’s more likely that the images will do the talking, and children will still be begging for the latest cool new toy they’ve just seen on TV, much like they did way back in 1952.