Special Session Summary When Shopping Is 'Kid Stuff:’ Influences on Children’S Shopping Behavior

Cele Otnes, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Elizabeth S. Moore-Shay, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
[ to cite ]:
Cele Otnes and Elizabeth S. Moore-Shay (1998) ,"Special Session Summary When Shopping Is 'Kid Stuff:’ Influences on Children’S Shopping Behavior", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 25, eds. Joseph W. Alba & J. Wesley Hutchinson, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 62.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 25, 1998      Page 62

SPECIAL SESSION SUMMARY

WHEN SHOPPING IS 'KID STUFF:’ INFLUENCES ON CHILDREN’S SHOPPING BEHAVIOR

Cele Otnes, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Elizabeth S. Moore-Shay, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The presenters in this session all share the assumption that shopping is a fundamental consumption activity for both children and adults - and no doubt is central to consumer socialization. Yet each approached this topic in a unique way. The first paper was "Children’s Shopping Activities Pertaining to Birthday Parties," by Cele Otnes (the University of Illinois), Mary Ann McGrath (Loyola University) and Lisa L. Love (the University of Illinois). This paper compared the perspectives of young children (ages four and five) and their mothers, with respect to shopping for their own and others’ birthday parties. While the children articulated the necessary artifacts for parties, and understood some aspects of gift buying, mothers clearly used gift selection to fulfill specific social roles while selecting gifts for their own or other children. Moreover, mothers used shopping trips as opportunities to educate their children about participating in birthday parties.

Next, "The Relationship Between Advertising Exposure and Children’s Influence Strategies While Shopping," was presented by Kay Palan and Russell Laczniak of Iowa State University. This research involved a content analysis of the influence strategies included in commercials targeted to children. After this analysis, children were shown a subset of these commercials, and the types of influence strategies present in the commercials and those that the children actually employed when making product requests were compared. In addition, parental style was measured, to see what types of relationships existed between parenting and the types of negotiation strategies used by children. Results of this study are being used to conduct a larger-scale exploration.

The final paper presented was "Squeeze the Bread, Check the Expiration Date: Shopping with Mom as Consumption Ritual," by Elizabeth Moore-Shay of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Drawing upon a grounded-theory approach, 58 individual depth interviews were conducted with children between the ages of 7 and 11. The interviews revealed a highly scripted perspective of the shopping experience, although the specific content of these repetitive elements varied across children. Some children described actively engaging in the shopping process, and their clear responibilities for product selection, task sharing, and rules for negotiating for desired items. Others, however, viewed the experience primarily as spectators, with little responsibility and freedom to choose. Children also used advertising and packaging information in the shopping process. In all of these scenarios, ritualistic aspects of shopping were evident.

The discussant for this session was James McNeal of Texas A&M University, one of the pioneers in the field of children as consumers. Professor McNeal described the continued need for research on this topic, and introduced a new method of exploring children’s shopping behavior-content analysis of pictures created by children of the retail experience. Professor McNeal illustrated how this technique can be used across cultures, to gain an understanding of children’s perspectives of marketplace behavior. A question-and-answer session followed his remarks.

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