Special Session Summary Ajust Do It!@ the Influence of Brand Names on Children’S Lives

Deborah Roedder John, University of Minnesota
[ to cite ]:
Deborah Roedder John (2001) ,"Special Session Summary Ajust Do It!@ the Influence of Brand Names on Children’S Lives", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, eds. Mary C. Gilly and Joan Meyers-Levy, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 48.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, 2001     Page 48

SPECIAL SESSION SUMMARY

"JUST DO IT!" THE INFLUENCE OF BRAND NAMES ON CHILDREN’S LIVES

Deborah Roedder John, University of Minnesota

Understanding how consumers relate to brand names has been an important topic in consumer research for the past decade. Surprisingly, none of the published research to date has examined similar branding issues with children. We know that children have a growing awareness of brand names as they grow older, which results in greater preference and requests for branded items. Beyond these observations, we know virtually nothing about how children of different ages relate to brand names, what types of associations and meanings they attach to brand names, and how they use brand names as cues in evaluating products and forming their own identities as consumers. The purpose of this session was to showcase emerging research addressing these issues.

The first paper, presented by Gwen Bachmann Achenreiner, explored the emergence of brand names as an important cue in children’s consumer judgments in an experimental setting with 8, 12, and 16 year-olds. In this study, children evaluated an advertised product (e.g., athletic shoes) with a familiar brand name that was either popular (e.g., Nike) or unpopular (e.g., Kmart). Children also evaluated owners of the popular and unpopular branded items (e.g., "cool-nerdy") and hypothetical brand extensions of the popular brand. The results indicated that, by age 12, children use brand names as an important cue in making these judgments.

The second paper, presented by Shi Zhang and Sanjay Sood, followed up on the topic of brand extension evaluations with several studies conducted with 12 year-olds and adults. Across three studies, the authors reported that 12 year-olds, relative to adult consumers, tend to evaluate brand extensions by relying less on the fit between the parent brand and the extension category (category similarity) and more on linguistic factors related to the name of the parent brand. For example, in the first experiment, adults rated near brand extensions more favorably than far brand extensions, while children rated them equivalently. Although children were capable of using category similarity in their evaluations when prompted (Experiment 2), children were more likely to rely on linguistic surface features (e.g., rhyming names) when evaluating brand extensions (Experiment 3).

The third paper, presented by Lan T. Nguyen and Deborah Roedder John, continued the theme of examining the importance of brand names to children, but explored the topic in terms of how children use brands to define their self images. Using several qualitative tasks with children 8 to 17 years of age, the authors examined how children define their self-concepts at different ages, looking at when brands become a defining feature of one’s self concept. Results indicated that the number of sel-brand connections, used as a measure of the extent to which children define their self-images in terms of brand names, increased with age.

Leading a discussion of these papers, Kevin Keller noted the need to look more thoroughly at the way children evaluate brand extensions, especially with regard to determining the age at which children evaluate extensions in a similar manner as adults. Also discussed were issues related to methodologies for studying branding issues with children, particularly the types of procedures, brand names, and age groups included in studies with children.

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