Young children's deep processing of endorsement marketing

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Series of three studies presented at CTC2012 conference (Milan, Italy; December 2012)

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Young children's deep processing of endorsement marketing

  1. 1. @TimSmitsTimTraces of deep processing inyoung children’s reactions tohealthy and unhealthy foodendorsements Tim Smits (KU Leuven) Heidi Vandebosch (UAntwerp) Acknowledgements to student researchers: Kim Deweirt – Carole Steger – Badia Idrioui
  2. 2. Kidsvertising: literacy “Historically dominant research topic in communication sciences: Advertising literacy the skills of analyzing, evaluating, and creating persuasive messages across a variety of contexts and media YOUNG (2003)Two developmental markers: 1. Ability to distinguish ads from content 2. Recognize the persuasive intent of ads Source: #google #ngram CTC2012: Traces of DEEP processing in children
  3. 3. Kidsvertising: effectsEffects research typically in other disciplines (until more recently) Medicine Marketing and consumer researchOnly scant attention to developmental markers A series of studies demonstrated that marketing persuasiveness exists among children, but little was known about age effects Effects seem to be possible among all age groupsSo, are there age differences in the cognitive underpinningsof these manifest effects? The same apparent effects can be due to different underlying mechanisms Focus of this paper: the persuasion process for 5-6 year olds? CTC2012: Traces of DEEP processing in children
  4. 4. “Prior claims in literature: Young children = PERIPHERAL PROCESSING It can be hypothesized that less media-literate viewers (generally younger children) are more interested in such superficial or peripheral features of advertising as celebrity sources, jingles, and colorful and entertaining images LIVINGSTONE & HELSPER (2006) “ But interest in “superficial” message aspects does not preclude deep processing more media-literate children (or older children and adults) are more attentive to the creativity or informative nature of the commercial or to the value of the product in their lives and are thereby more influenced by the quality of the arguments and claims LIVINGSTONE & HELSPER (2006) As if younger children are not able to think thoroughly…Empirical research: Very limited (exception Te’eni-Harari et al., 2007) … despite calls for such studies (e.g. Buijzen, Van Reijmersdal & Owen, 2010) Traces of DEEP processing in children
  5. 5. Central HypothesisYoung children possess the capacity to process messages centrally,though they might lack the capacity to counter-arguePrior evidence:Children (4-6 yo) presented with a character-endorsed carrotdisplay more positive attitudes towards that carrot if the endorseris conceptually relevant. DE DROOG, VALKENBURG & BUIJZEN (2012)So, children do elaborate on the “superficial” marketing techniqueand go beyond the mere fun factor of endorsementWhy would this be important?Multi-method examination of processing styles of food adsfeaturing endorsers that promote healthy or unhealthy foods Traces of DEEP processing in children
  6. 6. Q1: Can young children elaborate on therelation between endorser and productFocus groups: 14 children (50/50 boys & girls; 5 years old)Semi-structuredQuestions on different healthy foods, different known endorsers,and the explicit relation between both + explanation of answers:  What would character X eat?  Given a certain fruit/vegetable, which character would best fit? Which one of characters X1 and X2 best fits a given food?Results:Conceptual as well as perceptual relevance spontaneously given asa rationale for a match between character and food Pirate (Piet Piraat) – Exotic island – Banana Pink “superwoman” (Mega Mindy) – Most pink-like food – StrawberryConclusion: On a conscious level, deep processing of the endorseris possible Traces of DEEP processing in children
  7. 7. Q2: Can young children redirect theirattention from the endorser to the product “<> Centration hypothesis … under about 6 years of age, children obey the principle of ‘‘centration,’’ reacting to a single prominent attribute of a product (e.g., color or sound) to determine whether they like it or not (Carruth et al., 2000; Valkenburg & Cantor, 2001) LIVINGSTONE & HELSPER (2006)Experiment: 65 children, aged 6Manipulation: Cookie picture presented with-without an endorserMeasurement: Cognitions about the presentation + Food attitudeResults:Cognitions on both the endorser and the productEndorser does not seem to jeopardize thinking about the productAnecdote: Even divergent cognitions recorded about the cookiesConclusion: Deep processing even to the extent that they showsome adult-like scrutiny Traces of DEEP processing in children
  8. 8. Q3: Do young children recognize a weakargument (an incongruent endorser)?Recent research clearly demonstrates the persuasiveness of endorsersamong 4-6 year olds. Ten papers, 12 studies, mostly published since 2010 (Smits et al., submitted) Some of these studies demonstrated differences: certain endorser-food combinations are more persuasive than others. e.g. De Droog et al. (2012): Most incongruent combination -> lowest attitudes None of these studies designed to demonstrate inverse persuasiveness.Experiment: 74 children, aged 6, repeated measures designBaseline measurement without endorserFollow-up measurement with endorser Apple – Chocolate Bart Simpson - SportacusDV: Amount of each food they say they want to eat Traces of DEEP processing in children
  9. 9. Results Study 3 5 4,5 4 Apple Sportacus Appel Sportacus 3,5 Appel SimpsonSimpson Apple Bart 3 Chocolate Chocolade 2,5 Sportacus Sportacus 2 Chocolate Chocolade 1,5 Bart Simpson Simpson 1 0,5 0 Baseline basislijn Withendorser met endorser
  10. 10. Conclusion sYoung children can have the motivation and the ability to thinkthoroughly, also concerning the commercial messages targeted atthemFor a part, they can neglect the visual/cognitive attraction of theoften used endorser, such that they could engage in deepprocessing of the link between the endorser and the endorsedproduct.They are even able to think in a divergent (counter-arguing) way,resulting in negative attitudes for inconsistent endorsements. Thanks for your attention, remarks, and questions! Traces of DEEP processing in children
  11. 11. @TimSmitsTimTraces of deep processing inyoung children’s reactions tohealthy and unhealthy foodendorsements Tim Smits (KU Leuven) Heidi Vandebosch (UAntwerp) Acknowledgements to student researchers: Kim Deweirt – Carole Steger – Badia Idrioui
  12. 12. ContactTim Smits is an assistantprofessor in persuasive andmarketing communication at KULeuven. He is a PhD in Social Heidi Vandebosch is an associatePsychology and MSc in Statistics. professor at the University ofHe teaches courses on persuasive Antwerp. Her research focuses oncommunication, marketing youngsters, (new) media andcommunication, advertising, and health related problems (e.g.research methodology. obesity, cyberbullying). She teaches courses on media sociology and health communication.

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