Children As Consumers: Are They &Quot;Marketing&Quot; Literate?

Deborah Roedder John, University of Minnesota
Laura Peracchio, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
[ to cite ]:
Deborah Roedder John and Laura Peracchio (1993) ,"Children As Consumers: Are They &Quot;Marketing&Quot; Literate?", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, eds. Leigh McAlister and Michael L. Rothschild, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 373.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, 1993      Page 373


Deborah Roedder John, University of Minnesota

Laura Peracchio, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

In our society, children become avid consumers long before they learn the basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic. As children's roles as consumers have increased, so have concerns over children's abilities to evaluate advertising and promotion for these products and their abilities to make informed judgments as consumers. The purpose of this session was to bring together researchers interested in the children's area to focus on the topic of consumer literacy and learning in children.

The first presentation, "Effects of Channel One: Adolescent Knowledge of and Attitudes Toward Advertising" by Marian Friestad and David M. Boush, investigated how knowledgeable adolescent consumers are in terms of interpreting advertising tactics, such as the use of celebrity endorsers and humor. These knowledge structures were then related, along with other individual difference factors such as self-esteem and media habits, to adolescent attitudes toward advertising. Data from students from three middle schools were used to explore differences across three grade levels (grades 6-8). In addition, the authors explored how adolescent knowledge and attitudes might be affected by the recent introduction of Whittle Communication's Channel One programming.

The second presentation, "Young Children's Understanding of Visual and Aural Televised Messages" by Laura Peracchio, continued the theme of what children learn from advertising by examining the role that message modality plays in the learning process. Though young children tend to favor information that is presented in an audio-visual format, much important advertising information is conveyed aurally. This paper examined why aural presentations usually tend to be inferior to audio-visual ones and identified methods to increase young children's comprehension of aurally presented information. Findings from two experiments suggest that modality differences are due to differences in the degree of memory elaboration provided by audio-visual messages. More importantly, the results indicate that young children's acquisition of aural information can be enhanced by encouraging further elaboration of these messages.

The third presentation, "How Capable are Children as Decision Makers? An Exploratory Study of Information Search Behavior" by Jennifer Gregan-Paxton and Deborah Roedder John, investigated children's predecisional search behavior. Although children are called upon to make numerous consumer decisions at early ages, we know very little about how "skillful" they are in making decisions and in acquiring information to make informed decisions. This paper examined how young children (4 to 7 years of age) search for information in a consumer choice task, given different costs and benefits of obtaining information, Findings from an experimental study indicated that younger children in the sample had more difficulty making cost-benefit tradeoffs, whereas older children were more able to perform the same type of tradeoffs.