Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business (Research)

Department

Department of Marketing and Management

First Advisor

Ms. Rose Leahy

Abstract

Children, as a target audience are increasingly attractive to marketers for many reasons. Firstly, children represent an important demographic to marketers, they have their own purchasing power; they influence their parents buying decisions and are the adult consumer of the future (McNeal, 1999). Secondly, the children’s market is ever expanding and marketers see opportunities to reap the rewards by targeting their products at children in an effort to increase sales. Thirdly, children between the ages of 2-11 see more than 25,000 advertisements a year on television alone and until the age of eight years, children do not understand advertisements’ persuasive intent. Much research in the are of marketing o children has been focused on the American and wider European market. There exists a lack of research in this area in the Irish market and, in particular, the parents’ perspective on the marketing of toys to their children in Ireland is lacking. In this context, the objective of this study is to examine the marketing of toys to children in the Irish market. In particular, parents’ attitudes to the marketing of toy products will be investigated using focus groups.

The findings of the research conducted with parents of children between the ages of four and 12 years old indicate that parents have concerns about the marketing of toys directly to their children. A majority of parents in this research believe that children do not possess the cognitive ability to fully understand the persuasive intent before them and are unable to distinguish between programme content and advertisements. How'ever, an important finding of this research indicates that Irish parents are not of the belief that an all out ban on the marketing of toys similar to Sweden or Norway is appropriate, instead parents in this research view a more socially responsible approach to marketing more appropriate. It also emerged from the research undertaken that toy catalogues are deemed by parents in this study to be a particularly prominent and effective method of marketing with some children regarding them as story books, a method not highlighted in any literature available. Interestingly, it emerged from the research that educational toys should be marketed at both children and parents and that exposure to marketing is actually beneficial for children as it prepares them for a life of consumerism. This finding, however, must be balanced with the acknowledgement that children in general lack the cognitive ability to fully understand marketing, thus, the research recommends that education for children on marketing in primary school would be positive as would more awareness creation among parents of regulatory bodies in the area and promotion of a complaints procedure for parents where they are of the opinion that marketing to children is inappropriate. The parents’ perspective newly uncovered in this research fills a gap in the literature in this area, and provides recommendations for marketers on marketing their toys to children that might encourage a more socially responsible approach thus undermining the necessity for over regulations in the industry.

Access Level

info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess

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