The Intriguing world of Children - A Consumer Behavior perspective


By

Prof. Adya Sharma
Faculty
Symbiosis Institute of International Business (SIIB)
Pune
 



Children are one third of our population and all of our future. ~Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health, 1981

Some may say that children are just childrenólaughing, crying, playing, juggling between home, school, extra classes, tuition etc. As a marketer I wish the picture was this simple but we all know it is not. Today, children are a big target segment for all the marketing people and the interesting point is that it is a double market. First and foremost they are a present market for all the products which are meant for them at this age ( toys, eatables, books, clothes etc) and secondly lets not forget that its they who are the future market for most goods and services. Having their mind share now is certainly a helpful step for the present and future.

In view of the above the aim of this article is very simple:

What are the characteristics of this very interesting consumer who is between 8-14 years and as per the latest indicators ( the age group of 0-14 years) comprises around 30.8% of the total Indian population ???? Our aim is to talk about some main characteristics of this market specially the urban segment.

1) We are the Visualizers


After housewives, children are a keen watcher of T.V. On one hand they have specific channels for themselves but at the same time they also sit and view the programs watched by the other family members. Advertisements are a big favorite with them and the way they involve themselves with these advertisements is much more than an adult would do. Kids definitely belong to the group called visualizers who prefer information in a manner which talks more through photographs, music rather than written material.

2) We are the Innovators


Children are definitely innovative consumers. They are ready to try new products and new brands Over a period of time they get bored easily and therefore if one wants them to be brand loyal it is important that the brand is perceived as a innovative brand .

3) We have the Desire and authority

One may wonder, what role do children play in the consumption process!!!!! They are not the direct buyers, so does it make sense to target them?? Yes, definitely because even though they do not have the money to buy, but they have the desire and this desire gives them the authority in an indirect manner. All over the world the family systems have undergone a change in the last decade. A lot of parents today treat the children as equal and do not dismiss their demands and suggestions without giving them a patient hearing. Also sometimes, with both the parents pursuing their career goals, they have less time for the kids and somewhere they think that giving in to kids demand helps them in developing a better relationship with them. In both the situations the winner is the kid and the marketer.

4) Who influences us?

Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardor, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shams,
the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision.
                                                                                                                  - Aldous Huxley

And now comes the question---Children may influence their parents but who influences them the most? A survey undertaken by a group of my students had some really interesting results. When asked as to who influences them the most( choice given: cartoons, sportsmen, actors, children of your own age group), majority of the respondents choice was children of their own age group or children who are senior to them.

In a way, most probably, they are more realistic than any one of us.

5) We the grown ups


Children may be children for us but for them nothing is more irritating than to be treated as children. So another important characteristic of this group is that they wanted to be treated as grown-ups. No doubt someone has said: A characteristic of the normal child is he doesn't act that way very often.  ~Author Unknown.

Children's market is definitely a growing market, a market which most probably none of us can ignore, but beware it is not that simple as it looks. It has its own characteristics, it has its own complexities and one cannot be successful unless one moves forward keeping in mind their feelings.

(about the writeróThe writer is  Faculty at reputed Symbiosis Institute of International Business, Pune. Prior to that the writer has more than 10 years industry experience with MMTC Ltd which at a turnover of Rs151,237 mn in 2004-05 is  India's largest Foreign Trade enterprise and "A Government of India undertaking".)
 


Prof. Adya Sharma
Faculty
Symbiosis Institute of International Business (SIIB)
Pune
 

Source: E-mail December 12, 2006

     

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