ArticlePDF Available

Abstract

Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to gain insight into how both characteristics of toys and marketer-provided cues influence parents' perceptions of advertised toys and their ideas of what life skills are important for their children's future well-being and success. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Data were collected with a 2 (toy encourages structured play vs toy encourages unstructured play) × 2 (ad mentions "brain development" vs ad mentions "child development") experimental design involving four advertisements for a hypothetical toy. Findings ‐ Parents recognized that the toy encouraging unstructured play has many benefits. Relative to parents who saw an ad with a "child development" appeal, those who saw an ad with a "brain development" appeal rated social and intellectual development as less important for their children. Practical implications ‐ Findings support the idea that manufacturers can and should continue to develop toys, which encourage relatively unstructured play; such toys are both appreciated by parents and valued by experts. They also support eliminating "brain talk" from advertising; such messages do not enhance parents' evaluations of toys and detract from parents' maintaining the value they place on social and intellectual development. Social implications ‐ By designing toys which encourage play which is most beneficial to children and promoting them with advertisements without "brain" language, marketers can support children's development and parents' values. Originality/value ‐ This paper provides insights into the effects of toy and ad characteristics on parents' perceptions of toys and what is important for their children.
Young Consumers: Insight and Ideas for Responsible Marketers
Emerald Article: Marketing toys without playing around
Meryl P. Gardner, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Daniel
Heiney-Gonzalez
Article information:
To cite this document: Meryl P. Gardner, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Daniel Heiney-Gonzalez, (2012),"Marketing
toys without playing around", Young Consumers: Insight and Ideas for Responsible Marketers, Vol. 13 Iss: 4 pp. 381 - 391
Permanent link to this document:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/17473611211282626
Downloaded on: 17-11-2012
References: This document contains references to 26 other documents
To copy this document: permissions@emeraldinsight.com
Access to this document was granted through an Emerald subscription provided by Emerald Author Access
For Authors:
If you would like to write for this, or any other Emerald publication, then please use our Emerald for Authors service.
Information about how to choose which publication to write for and submission guidelines are available for all. Please visit
www.emeraldinsight.com/authors for more information.
About Emerald www.emeraldinsight.com
With over forty years' experience, Emerald Group Publishing is a leading independent publisher of global research with impact in
business, society, public policy and education. In total, Emerald publishes over 275 journals and more than 130 book series, as
well as an extensive range of online products and services. Emerald is both COUNTER 3 and TRANSFER compliant. The organization is
a partner of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and also works with Portico and the LOCKSS initiative for digital archive
preservation. *Related content and download information correct at time of download.
Marketing toys without playing around
Meryl P. Gardner, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and
Daniel Heiney-Gonzalez
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to gain insight into how both characteristics of toys and
marketer-provided cues influence parents’ perceptions of advertised toys and their ideas of what life
skills are important for their children’s future well-being and success.
Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected with a 2 (toy encourages structured play vs toy
encourages unstructured play) £2 (ad mentions ‘‘brain development’’ vs ad mentions ‘‘child
development’’) experimental design involving four advertisements for a hypothetical toy.
Findings – Parents recognized that the toy encouraging unstructured play has many benefits. Relative
to parents who saw an ad with a ‘‘child development’’ appeal, those who saw an ad with a ‘‘brain
development’’ appeal rated social and intellectual development as less important for their children.
Practical implications – Findings support the idea that manufacturers can and should continue to
develop toys, which encourage relatively unstructured play; such toys are both appreciated by parents
and valued by experts. They also support eliminating ‘‘brain talk’’ from advertising; such messages do
not enhance parents’ evaluations of toys and detract from parents’ maintaining the value they place on
social and intellectual development.
Social implications By designing toys which encourage play which is most beneficial to children and
promoting them with advertisements without ‘‘brain’’ language, marketers can support children’s
development and parents’ values.
Originality/value – This paper provides insights into the effects of toy and ad characteristics on
parents’ perceptions of toys and what is important for their children.
Keywords Toys, Marketing, Values, Children (age groups), Parents, Advertising, Play,
Transformative research, Social responsibility, Behaviour
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
Responsible marketing means concern for products and promotions directed to parents
who buy for children (e.g. Ogba and Johnson, 2010). Much research on the effects of
marketing products targeted to children has emphasized avoiding harm. For example,
Hogan (2007) discusses the efforts of the toy industry to become more responsible, open,
and trustworthy. This research complements that approach by investigating ways toy
marketers can develop and promote toys in ways that support parental values and enhance
child development.
The potential for toy marketers to help parents and children is especially promising because
childhood is a prime time to nurture development (e.g. Hirsh-Pasek et al., 2009). Research
has found that learning is cumulative: competencies acquired by young children help them
when they are older (Hirsh-Pasek and Golinkoff, 2011). Play is an important means of both
learning and psychological development for young children (Hirsh-Pasek et al., 2009;
Myck-Wayne, 2010; Ozanne and Ozanne, 2011) and developmental psychologists can
DOI 10.1108/17473611211282626 VOL. 13 NO. 4 2012, pp. 381-391, QEmerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1747-3616
j
YOUNG CONSUMERS
j
PAGE 381
Meryl P. Gardner is based in
the Department of Business
Administration, and
Roberta Michnick Golinkoff
is based in the School of
Education and
Departments of Psychology
and Linguistics, both at the
University of Delaware,
Newark, Delaware, USA.
Kathy Hirsh-Pasek is based
in the Department of
Psychology, Temple
University, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, USA.
Daniel Heiney-Gonzalez is
based in the Department of
Business Administration,
University of Delaware,
Newark, Delaware, USA.
provide marketers with guidelines for creating and promoting toys which are most likely to
lead to the kinds of play that help children the most.
In general, psychologists have found that play which is relatively unstructured, in the sense
that it is open-ended and encourages children to find their own ways to solve problems, is
more likely to promote learning than that which is relatively structured, in the sense of
encouraging children to find a single correct answer. Fisher et al. (2008) showed 99 child
development experts a list of 26 children’s activities and asked them to rate each activity’s
relation to academic learning. The experts reported that the activities involving relatively
unstructured play were more likely to lead to learning than those involving more structured
play. Marketers can help children learn by developing and promoting toys which are
consistent with the experts’ recommendations for less structured play.
In addition, there is concern about marketing messages and how they influence purchases
(e.g. Jain et al., 2011) and consumer values. Research has shown that the presence of an
attribute in an advertisement can make that attribute salient in consumer decision making
(Gardner, 1983) by increasing the amount of attention directed to the attribute (Mackenzie,
1986), but it is not clear how ad content may interact with parental ‘‘hot buttons’ ’. How does
the presence of a trait in an advertisement affect the traits that parents value for their
children’s well-being and success?
The general purpose of this research is to understand how both the characteristics of toys
and marketer-provided cues influence:
BParents’ perceptions of advertised toys.
BParents’ ideas of what life skills are important for their children’s future well-being and
success.
These issues are of particular concern because the marketplace targets parents of young
children with expensive electronic toys, books, computer games and videos with claims that
such toys will facilitate brain development and help children become smarter but, there is no
evidence of any positive educational effects (Hirsh-Pasek and Golinkoff, 2008). In fact,
evidence suggests product use may be harmful or may result in children not having time for
activities that are developmentally appropriate (Kaiser Foundation Report, 2005). While
families are turning away from traditional toys (books, blocks, and dolls) in favor of electronic
toys, believing that the modern toys will improve their children’s abilities, child development
experts are emphasizing the exact opposite there is nothing better for child development
than traditional play (Marcus, 1999).
The paper begins with a review of the literature and then describes an experiment to see how
a description of a hypothetical toys and a marketer-provided message affect parent’s
perceptions of the advertised toy and their ideas about the skills which are important for their
children’s future. Findings are presented and implications for marketers, society, and future
research are discussed.
Literature review
Effects of toys on children
When parents choose toys, one of the factors they consider is whether they will help their
child develop intellectually or creatively. Parsons and Ballantine (2008) asked parents to
identify the single most important consideration when purchasing a gift for a child, and 15.2
percent felt the most important consideration was that it be educational or foster the child’s
development or creativity. Parents and developmental psychologists do not have exactly the
same ideas about the kinds of play that will foster this development. Fisher et al. (2008)
compared the perceptions of parents and developmental psychologists for different kinds of
play. They found that parents realize that play which is relatively unstructured –
i.e. unfettered, open-ended play which allows children to find multiple ways to do things
helps their children learn, and developmental psychologists agree. Where parents and
experts disagree, is in the role of highly structured play, which typically involves getting the
PAGE 382
j
YOUNG CONSUMERS
j
VOL. 13 NO. 4 2012
right answer and does not allow opportunities for exploration. Parents see such play as more
educational and beneficial than experts do.
One factor which affects whether play will be relatively structured or unstructured is the
nature of the toy itself. Bergen et al. (2010) found that toy features contribute to the
developmental level of parent-child play with the toy and the types of play actions that occur.
Some toy features were used in exploration, practice play, and social games; some were
related to the child laughing, and some played a role in the nature of parent-child
interactions and were related to the parent and child’s focus of attention. Children learn from
their experiences with toys – both when they play alone and when they play with toys with
others – and this learning is enhanced by relatively unstructured play which encourages
children to think creatively and come up with their own problems and solutions. In contrast,
the experiences children have with toys which have all the answers, and so lead to highly
structured play, typically direct the child to the ‘‘right answer’’ and do not provide such
opportunities for discovery. The play literature suggests that developmental psychologists
will perceive toys that encourage unstructured play as having positive characteristics, but it
is not clear how mothers, who sometimes feel structured play is more educational (Fisher
et al., 2008), will perceive such toys. Accordingly, we will investigate perceptions of toys
which encourage structured vs unstructured play, but will not formulate a hypothesis about
which toys will be perceived as having more positive characteristics.
Effects of advertising messages
The role of marketing messages aimed at parents is an important and under-studied aspect
of toy marketing. Developmental psychologists are particularly concerned about appeals
that use the word ‘‘brain’’ because people react so strongly to anything that has to do with
‘‘brain’’. According to Hirsh-Pasek and Bruer (2007),
Brain-based consultants continue to visit school districts. And a market has grown for
brain-based toys. The message of synaptic growth and critical periods has affective appeal, but
no scientific substance.
They report that brain research, although it is currently unable to address issues directly
related to how children learn, receives a disproportionate amount of attention from
policy-makers. Weisberg et al. (2008) found that people recognized that bad explanations of
psychological phenomenon were inferior to good explanations, but when the bad
explanations had irrelevant neuroscience jargon thrown in, they were willing to overlook
flaws in the bad explanations. Similarly, toys advertised with ‘‘brain’’ claims may be
perceived as having positive characteristics (hypothesis 1).
In addition, Bloom (2006) points out that any mention of ‘‘brain’’ in a wide variety of media
attracts attention and enthusiasm. While marketers often want to get people to notice their
ads in a crowded media environment, ‘‘brain’’ messages may be somewhat misleading in
the context of toys. Typically salient ad attributes are considered important in product
evaluation (Gardner, 1983) as they attract attention (Mackenzie, 1986). If parents see ‘‘brain’’
mentioned in ads for toys, they may begin to consider it an important attribute in toys and
consider other attributes less important (hypothesis 2).
Given the importance of the type of play toys encourage (structured vs unstructured) and the
importance of advertising messages (brain appeal vs non-brain appeal), manufacturers
need to know the kinds of toys to develop and the best ways to advertise them.
Method
To investigate the role of toy characteristics which encourage relatively structured play vs
relatively unstructured play and the role of marketing messages which involve a brain
development appeal vs a child development appeal, we used a 2 (toy) £2 (appeal) design
involving four advertisement for a hypothetical toy.
The first factor, Toy, was manipulated by describing the hypothetical toy as either having
characteristics associated with unstructured play or structured play. Although structured vs
VOL. 13 NO. 4 2012
j
YOUNG CONSUMERS
j
PAGE 383
unstructured play is only one of the factors parents consider when selecting toys, by
abstracting this one variable, we are able to better understand its impact. In addition,
although structured vs unstructured play can be viewed along a continuum involving
different degrees and types of structure, to gain insight into this factor, we chose to look at
exemplars that are close to the extremes and will refer to them as ‘‘unstructured’’ and
‘‘structured’’ for simplicity. Recall that unstructured play typically involves letting children
know that there are multiple approaches to a situation and provides them with opportunities
for experimentation, while structured play typically involves directing children to find one
‘‘right’’ answer and does not provide opportunities for experimentation. To create
descriptions of a toy that is likely to lead to structured play and one that is likely to lead to
unstructured play, we used ‘the psychologists’ six toy-buying principles’ ’ (Hirsh-Pasek and
Golinkoff, 2007):
1. Look for a toy that is 10 per cent toy and 90 per cent child. A lot of toys direct the play
activity by talking to children or asking them to press buttons. Find a toy that does not
command the child.
2. Toys are meant to be platforms for play – they should be props not directing play.
3. If it is a toy that asks your child to supply one thing such as fill in the blank or give one
right answer it is not allowing the child to express creativity.
4. Look for something that can be taken apart and remade – to build imagination.
5. See if the toy promises brain growth. If it is telling you that your child is going to be smarter
or bilingual it is a red flag.
6. Does the toy encourage social interaction? It is fine for your child to have alone time, but it
is great for them to be with others.
The first four of the ‘‘the psychologists’ six toy-buying principles’’ involve characteristics of
toys themselves, and were used to design the hypothetical descriptions of the toys used in
our study. Our description of a hypothetical toy, which would encourage unstructured play
was written to be consistent with the first four of the above characteristics. More specifically,
the unstructured play toy was described as:
Colorful components encourage your child’s learning by allowing any number of possible fun
compositions. Will engage your child for hours. Pieces can be taken apart and remade as many
times and ways as your child wants.
In contrast, the hypothetical toy which would encourage structured play was written to be
inconsistent with the first four of the ‘‘the psychologists’ six toy-buying principles’’. More
specifically, the structured-play toy was described as:
Colorful components encourage your child’s learning by playing a fun song when the right answer
is selected. Will engage your child for hours. All in one assembly so pieces don’t get all over your
house or get lost.
The fifth of ‘the psychologists’ six toy-buying principles’’ involves marketer-provided
messages about the toy, rather than characteristics of the toy itself. To understand the role of
such language on parents’ perceptions of advertised toys and the impact of such
messages, we investigated the content of the marketing message independently of toy
characteristics. The second factor, ‘‘ad appeal’’ was manipulated by a statement in the ad
which said that the toy was developed by a specialist in ‘‘brain development’’ or ‘‘child
development’’. Note that this is a conservative test of the effects of ‘‘brain’’ messages
because a child development specialist would be expected to also know about brain
development.
The 2 (toy) £2 (ad appeal) design gave us four advertisements for hypothetical toys. The
ads were presented as mockups so parents did not expect professional quality and did not
have many aspects typically found in ads. Our purpose was to isolate the effects of the
message components that were of interest to us. For example, to avoid parents making
inferences about the toy from a picture, the ads did not have an illustration. Instead parents
PAGE 384
j
YOUNG CONSUMERS
j
VOL. 13 NO. 4 2012
were told that the ads do not yet have pictures and that there was a space in the ad
indicating where a picture would go.
The study was completed by 236 English-speaking female parents/guardians with at least
one child under the age of ten. Female parents and guardians were used because
according to Anita Frazier, NPD Funworld entertainment industry analyst, women buy more
toys for children than men (NPD Group, 2005). Each participant was paid 50 cents and
completed the study online on her own. They were recruited through Amazon Mechanical
Turk (AMT). AMT is an online marketplace where people can use an online interface
(www.mturk.com) to post tasks for completion for a fee. Participation is double blind, but
researchers can require that respondents meet specific criteria and retain the ability to
accept or reject each participant’s responses if they fail to meet the criteria before Amazon
sends payment to the participant. AMT has been found to be a good way to get data with
good validity, and has been used in a variety of disciplines. For example, Heer and Bostock
(2010), studying visualization, found that studies run with AMT successfully replicated
findings of previous studies of luminance contrast and spatial encoding and Gardner et al.
(2012), studying self-assessments of body size estimation and dissatisfaction found that
AMT replicated findings of previous studies and concluded that it was an effective tool for
data collection on attitudinal and perceptual aspects of body image and dissatisfaction.
Sprouse (2011) compared measures from laboratory studies to those obtained from AMT
and found they were very similar. Buhrmester et al. (2011) found that ‘‘ (a) MTurk participants
are slightly more demographically diverse than are standard Internet samples and are
significantly more diverse than typical American college samples; (b) participation is
affected by compensation rate and task length, but participants can still be recruited rapidly
and inexpensively; (c) realistic compensation rates do not affect data quality; and (d) the
data obtained are at least as reliable as those obtained via traditional methods.’’
Participants were told:
This study involves asking you to look at mock up for an ad for a toy you might consider giving to a
four year old. The ad is very rough and does not yet have a picture, but the place for the picture is
indicated. Your evaluation of the toy and its suitability for giving as a gift would depend on a
number of factors. For the sake of this experiment, please assume that you have decided to
spend $19.99 on the gift and that the advertised product sells for $19.99. Please also assume that
the recipient does not have this particular toy and that getting it wrapped and to the child is not a
problem.
Participants saw one of the four ads and responded to items to assess perceptions of the
advertised toy using a 1 (disagree) to 7 (agree) scale. In addition, they were asked to rate the
importance of skills as contributors toward their children’s development and future
well-being and success on a scale from relatively unimportant (1) to relatively important (7).
Upon completion of the study, demographics were assessed, the parents read a debriefing
statement, and the fact that the research should not be viewed as a recommendation of
particular products was emphasized.
Findings
Perceptions of the advertised toy
As can be seen in Table I, relative to the Structured Play Toy, the Unstructured Play Toy was
considered:
1. A good gift:
BFor a child who tends to play with others ( p¼0.016, Unstructured Play toy ¼4.513,
Structured Play Toy ¼4.045).
BFor a family where they have time to use the product with the child ( p¼0.001,
Unstructured Play Toy ¼5.113, Structured Play Toy ¼4.496).
BFor a child who is creative ( p¼0.00, Unstructured Play Toy ¼5.651, Structured Play
Toy ¼4.2).
VOL. 13 NO. 4 2012
j
YOUNG CONSUMERS
j
PAGE 385
BFor a family where they stress creativity ( p¼0.00, Unstructured Play Toy ¼5.632,
Structured Play Toy ¼4.512).
BA really fun gift for adults to use with the child (p¼0.002, Unstructured Play
Toy ¼4.909, Structured Play Toy ¼4.299).
2. Something that would help children develop:
BCreativity ( p¼0.00, Unstructured Play Toy ¼5.53, Structured Play Toy ¼4.478).
BPhysically ( p¼0.005, Unstructured Play Toy ¼3.962, Structured Play Toy ¼3.364).
BSocially ( p¼0.003, Unstructured Play Toy ¼4.272, Structured Play Toy ¼3.664).
BSomething they’d buy for their own children ( p¼0.033, Unstructured play
Toy ¼5.145, Structured Play Toy ¼4.676).
Recall that hypothesis 1 hypothesized that toys advertised with ‘‘brain’’ claims were
expected to be perceived as having positive characteristics. The only area where the brain
development appeal out-performed the child development appeal involved the toy being a
good gift for a child they do not know very well, so support for hypothesis 1 was extremely
limited. As indicated in Table II, parents who saw the advertisement with the brain
development appeal thought the toy would be a better gift for a child they did not know well
than those who saw the advertisement with a child development appeal (M ¼4:80 vs
M¼4:29, p¼0.01).
The effect can be explained by the toy £appeal interaction (p¼0:01). Table III reveals that
for the unstructured play toy, parents who saw the brain development appeal thought the toy
would be a much better gift for a child they didn’t know well than those who saw the child
development appeal (M ¼4:97 vs M ¼3:93). For the structured play toy, the advertising
Table I Perceptions of the advertised toy by toy type
Characteristics p-value
Unstructured
play toy
Structured
play toy
This product would be a good gift for a child who
tends to play with other 0.016 4.513 4.045
This product would be a good gift for a family
where they have time to use the product with the
child 0.001 5.113 4.496
This product would be a good gift for a child who
is creative 0.00 5.651 4.2
This product would be a good gift for a family
where they stress creativity 0.00 5.632 4.512
This product would be a really fun gift for adults to
use with the child 0.002 4.909 4.299
This product would help the child develop
creativity 0.00 5.53 4.478
This product would help the child develop
physically 0.005 3.962 3.364
This product would help the child develop
socially 0.003 4.272 3.664
I would buy something like this for my child 0.033 5.145 4.676
Notes: Perceptions were measured on a scale of 1 signifying disagree to 7 signifying agree
Table II Perceptions of the advertised toy by appeal type
Characteristics p-value Brain appeal Child appeal
This product would be a good gift for a child I do
not know very well 0.01 4.80 4.29
Notes: Perceptions were measured on a scale of 1 signifying disagree to 7 signifying agree
PAGE 386
j
YOUNG CONSUMERS
j
VOL. 13 NO. 4 2012
appeal did not matter (M ¼4:64 for brain development appeal vs M ¼4:66 for child
development appeal).
Type of toy and advertising appeal also had an interactive effect on the belief that the toy
would help children develop independence (p¼0:05). Parents who saw the unstructured
play toy advertised with the brain development appeal (M ¼5:34) and those who saw the
structured play toy advertised with the child development appeal (M ¼5:31) were more
likely to think the advertised toy would help the child develop independence than those who
saw the unstructured play toy advertised with the child development appeal (M ¼5:02) or
the structured play toy advertised with the brain development appeal (M ¼4:97).
Factors important for future well-being and success
Parents were asked about the factors important for their child’s future well-being and
success. As indicated in Table IV, while all parents considered academic skills important,
those who saw the ad with the brain development appeal considered academic skills to be
less important (M ¼6:24) than those who saw the child development appeal (M ¼6:52,
p¼0:03). Similarly while all parents considered social skills important, those who saw the ad
with the brain development appeal considered social skills to be less important (M ¼6:01)
than those who saw the child development appeal (M ¼6:39, p¼0:01). Thus, hypothesis 2,
which had hypothesized that mothers exposed to toy ads which contain mention of ‘‘brain’
would consider braininess an important attribute in toys and consider other attributes less
important, received some support (hypothesis 2).
Additional analyses
MANOVA and analysis of covariance was used to see if the above effects differed by
parents’ level of education, age, number of children, and children’s genders, and indicated
that parents’ demographics did not play a role in their perceptions or post-exposure values.
Discussion
Summary and conclusions
Parents were able to appreciate the advantages of the unstructured play toy, and viewed it
as being something they would buy for their own children and something that would help
children develop creatively, physically and socially. In addition, relative to the structured play
toy, they viewed the unstructured play toy as a really fun gift for adults to use with children
and as a better gift across a wide range of circumstances – including as a gift for children
Table III Toy £appeal interactions for perceptions of advertised toy
Characteristics p-value
Unstructured
brain
Unstructured
child
Structured
brain
Structured
child
This product would be a good gift for a child I do
not know very well 0.01 4.97 3.93 4.64 4.66
This product would help the child develop
independence 0.05 5.34 5.31 4.97 5.02
Notes: Perceptions were measured on a scale of 1 signifying disagree to 7 signifying agree
Table IV Factors important for future well-being and success by appeal
Factors p-value Brain appeal Child appeal
Academic skills 0.03 6.24 6.52
Social skills 0.01 6.01 6.39
Notes: Factors were measured on a scale of 1 signifying relatively unimportant to 7 signifying relatively
important
VOL. 13 NO. 4 2012
j
YOUNG CONSUMERS
j
PAGE 387
who tend to play with others or are creative and for families who have time to use the product
with their children or stress creativity. Taken together, these findings suggest that parents,
like experts, appreciate the benefits of toys, which promote unstructured play. Consistent
with Fisher et al. (2008), findings indicate that parents recognize benefits of toys that
encourage unstructured play. This is true across education levels, age, number of children,
and whether they are parents of boys or girls.
Although the child development appeal was associated with a host of positive perceptions,
when the unstructured toy was advertised with the brain development appeal, it was
considered a better gift for a child parents do not know well than when it was advertised with
a child development appeal (M ¼4:80 vs M ¼4:29, p¼0:01). Gift giving when the giver
does not know the receiver very well involves limited information and social distance. The
interplay between characteristics of the toy and characteristics of the message in gift giving
is consistent with Larsen and Watson (2001)’s model of the gift giving experience as
reflecting economic, functional, social and expressive values, which are themselves,
influenced by cost, content and appropriateness.
Perceptions of the toy helping children develop independence were influenced by the
interaction of toy type and advertising appeal. The unstructured play toy, which had been
considered appropriate for development of social skills and for parent-child play, was
considered more likely to lead to independence, when paired with a brain appeal message.
The structured play toy had been viewed as less likely to involve social play, and so perhaps
more likely to involve solitary play. When paired with a child development message, parents
may have inferred that such play might have a benefit development of independence.
Perhaps most importantly, advertising messages affected what parents considered
important for their children. Parents who saw the brain development appeal considered both
academic and social skills less important than those who saw the child development appeal.
One possible explanation may be that the brain message distracts parents from their own
values. Analogous to Weisberg et al. (2008)’s finding that irrelevant neuroscience jargon
rendered people unable to discern that bad explanations of psychological phenomenon
were inferior to good explanations, it seems that adding ‘‘brain’’ to an ad may render parents
less able to maintain their beliefs in the importance of academic and social skills for their
children’s future well-being.
Implications
Findings indicate that on a host of dimensions, parents are a good judge of toys. They also
suggest that there is an opportunity for toy companies to capitalize on this and on the
consistency of experts with parents’ preferences. Marketers can develop toys that are good
for children and parents can appreciate toys that inspire unstructured play. This is
encouraging because it suggests that parents appreciate toys, which promote unstructured
play; consistent with what experts have learned is best for children. This is true across
demographics, suggesting that there is an opportunity to develop unstructured toys for
children of both sexes, who live in families of a variety of sizes, and have parents of all ages
and educational backgrounds.
Although in general, parents agree with experts and recognize the advantages of
unstructured toys, the findings suggest opportunities for marketers to develop new product
offerings. More specifically findings indicate an opportunity for toy manufacturers to develop
new toys for gift giving when the giver and recipient do know each other well. Gift giving is
formal, and the structured play toy may be more appealing for gifts giving when there is
social distance precisely because it seems more formal than the unstructured play toy-
similar to the idea that a gift comes neatly packaged in a box, but when you buy something
for yourself it is fine if it comes home in a bag. Toys associated with unstructured play,
however, need not be informal in their presentation. There is an opportunity for toy
companies to develop gift toys that lead to unstructured play, but have the structure –
perhaps in the packaging, messages, or other associations to make them appropriate for
gift giving.
PAGE 388
j
YOUNG CONSUMERS
j
VOL. 13 NO. 4 2012
In addition, findings indicate that parents like unstructured toys, but are unsure how to
evaluate how well such toys promote independence. There is an opportunity for toy
companies to introduce toys designed to help children develop independence that are
unstructured, and to promote such toys with messages explaining how they ‘‘work’ ’so parents
will understand how the lack of structure can facilitate the development of independence.
Advertisements and packages for unstructured play toys can describe how they can be used
for solo play – perhaps in addition to play with others – and how they can help children learn
problem solving techniques associated with the development of independence.
Our findings suggest that marketers can eliminate ‘‘brain talk’’ from advertising because it
generally makes toys less attractive to parents. This is encouraging because mentioning
‘‘brain’’ in an advertisement had an unintended, societally detrimental effect on parental
values, leading parents to devalue the importance of both academic and social skills.
Weisberg (2008) argues that neuroscience can influence the public’s acceptance of material
that, perhaps, should not be accepted, and calls upon the scientific community to monitor the
way its claims and applications are reported in the popular press. Similarly, our findings
suggest that the power of ‘‘brain’ ’ appeals in advertising means that the advertising community
needs to monitor itself to use the word and, by inference, its synonyms, responsibly.
Limitations and future research
The findings provide initial insights into the role of advertising and toy types on parents’
perceptions of advertised toys. Additional research is needed to provide a much more
complex and robust evaluation of parents’ judgments of the varied play values of different
learning toys. Findings indicate that exposure to adver tising affects parents’ values. While the
finding is intriguing, this study involved a single and forced exposure. It is not clear how the
finding would be affected by multiple exposures under more realistic conditions – i.e. whether
greater realism would decrease this effect (because people would be more vigilant to protect
their values) or increase it (due to multiple exposures). Further research is also needed to
determine whether the findings would hold for ads for familiar products, ads that were richer in
content and execution, and ads shown in different media. Additional research is also needed
to understand how dimensions of toys other than that of structured vs. unstructured play, such
as their degree of technological sophistication, or their similarity to toys mothers owned when
they were young, affect parents’ perceptions. Further research is also needed to fully explore
the rich range of parents’ evaluations of the play value of different toys that are marketed as
educational but vary widely in characteristics, and to assess parents’ willingness to buy such
toys at different price points and for different purposes. In addition, research is needed to
understand the collective and cumulative impact of marketer-provided messages for a variety
of children’s products with a host of advertising appeals related to ‘‘brain’’, ‘‘education’’, and
‘‘intellect’’ on societal values and parenting.
While providing initial insights, this research used parents’ self-reports and mock up
advertisements for hypothetical toys. Additional research, involving qualitative methods
would provide insight into parents’ underlying thinking and studies using behavioral
measures would enable us to see whether actions changed as well as responses. For
example, would parents exposed to brain appeal messages be less likely to sign their children
up for library cards? Research involving real advertisements and real toys would enhance the
generalizability of the findings to existing as well as novel products and messages.
References
Bergen, D., Hutchinson, K., Nolan, J.T. and Weber, D. (2010), ‘‘Effects of infant-parent play with a
technology-enhanced toy: affordance-related actions and communicative interactions’’, Journal of
Research in Childhood Education, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 1-17.
Bloom, P. (2006), ‘‘Seduced by the flickering lights of the brain’’, Seed Magazine, June 27.
Buhrmester, M., Kwang, T. and Gosling, S.D. (2011), ‘‘Amazon’s mechanical Turk: a new source of
inexpensive, yet high-quality, data?’’, Perspectives on Psychological Science, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 3-5.
VOL. 13 NO. 4 2012
j
YOUNG CONSUMERS
j
PAGE 389
Fisher, K.R., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R.M. and Gryfe, S.G. (2008), ‘‘Conceptual split? Parents’ and
experts’ perceptions of play in the 21st century’’, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Vol. 29
No. 4, pp. 305-16.
Gardner, M.P. (1983), ‘‘Advertising effects on attributes recalled and criteria used for brand
evaluations’’, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 310-8.
Gardner, R.M., Brown, D.L. and Boice, R. (2012), ‘‘Using Amazon’s mechanical Turk website to measure
accuracy of body size estimation and body dissatisfaction’’, Body Image, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 532-4.
Heer, J. and Bostock, M. (2010), ‘‘Crowdsourcing graphical perception: using mechanical Turk to
assess visualization design’’, paper presented at CHI 2010: Visualization, Atlanta, GA, April 10-15.
Hirsh-Pasek, K. and Bruer, J.T. (2007), ‘‘The brain/education barrier’’, Science, Vol. 317 No. 5843,
p. 1293.
Hirsh-Pasek, K. and Golinkoff, R. (2007), ‘‘The psychologists’ six toy-buying principles’’, in Ahuja, A.
(Ed.), ‘‘Trouble in Toytown’’, The Times (London), December 20.
Hirsh-Pasek, K. and Golinkoff, R.M. (2008), ‘‘Brains in a box: do new age toys deliver on the promise?’’,
in Harwood, R. (Ed.), Child Development in a Changing Society, Wiley Press, Hoboken, NJ.
Hirsh-Pasek, K. and Golinkoff, R. (2011), ‘‘The great balancing act: optimizing core curricula through
playful pedagogy’’, in Zigler, E., Barnett, S. and Gilliam, W. (Eds), The Pre-K Debates: Current
Controversies and Issues, Paul H. Brookes, Baltimore, MD.
Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R.M., Berk, L.E. and Singer, D.G. (2009), A Mandate for Playful Learning in
Preschool: Presenting the Evidence, Oxford University Press, New York, NY.
Hogan, S.P. (2007), ‘ ‘Toy stories, horror stories and fairy tales: the role of the media in highlighting issues
of corporate responsibility’’, Young Consumers, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 94-100.
Jain, V., Roy, S., Daswani, A. and Sudha, M. (2011), ‘‘What really works for teenagers: human or fictional
celebrity?’’, Young Consumers, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 171-83.
Kaiser Foundation Report (2005), A Teacher in the Living Room: Educational Media for Babies, Toddlers
and Preschoolers, Kaiser Foundation, Washington, DC, (December).
Larsen, D. and Watson, J.J. (2001), ‘‘A guide map to the terrain of gift value’ ’, Psychology & Marketing,
Vol. 18 No. 8, pp. 889-906.
Marcus, D.L. (1999), ‘‘Tis the season for smart toys and they don’t even need a silicon chip’ ’, US News
and World Report, 127.22, 99, December 6.
Mackenzie, S.B. (1986), ‘‘The role of attention in mediating the effect of advertising on attribute
importance’’, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 174-95.
Myck-Wayne, J. (2010), ‘‘In defense of play: beginning the dialog about the power of play’’, Young
Exceptional Children, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 14-23.
NPD Group (2005), ‘‘Women buy more toys (but men buy for themselves)’’, quote from Anita Frazier,
NPD Insights, Issue 29, February, available at: www.npdinsights.com/archives/february2005/cover_
story.html
Ogba, I. and Johnson, R. (2010), ‘‘How packaging affects the product preferences of children and the
buyer behaviour of their parents in the food industry’’, Young Consumers, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 77-89.
Ozanne, L.K. and Ozanne, J.L. (2011), ‘‘A child’s right to play: the social construction of civic virtues in
toy libraries’’, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 263-76.
Parsons, A.G. and Ballantine, P.W. (2008), ‘‘The gifts we buy for children’’, Young Consumers, Vol. 9
No. 4, pp. 308-15.
Sprouse, J. (2011), ‘‘A validation of Amazon mechanical Turk for the collection of acceptability
judgments in linguistic theory’’, Behavioral Research, Vol. 43 No. 1, pp. 155-67.
Weisberg, D.S. (2008), ‘‘Caveat lector: the presentation of neuroscience information in the popular
media’’, The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 51-6.
Weisberg, D.S., Keil, F.C., Goodstein, J., Rawson, E. and Gray, J.R. (2008), ‘‘The seductive allure of
neuroscience explanations’’, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 470-7.
PAGE 390
j
YOUNG CONSUMERS
j
VOL. 13 NO. 4 2012
About the authors
Meryl P. Gardner is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Lerner College of Business
and Economics, University of Delaware. Her research interests involve viewing marketing
opportunities through a consumer psychology lens, with a focus on the influence of affect on
consumer behavior and the role of marketing in socially positive behavior change. She is
particularly interested in the role of emotions in consumer psychology, and in consumer
response to energy-efficient technologies and societally beneficial products. Meryl
P. Gardner is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: gardnerm@udel.edu
Roberta Michnick Golinkoff holds the H. Rodney Sharp Chair in the School of Education at
the University of Delaware, is also a member of the Departments of Psychology and
Linguistics, and serves as the Director of the Infant Language Project. She is the recipient of
the American Psychological Association’s Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contribution to
Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society, as well as the American
Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Service to Psychological Science, and
The Francis Alison Faculty Award.
Kathy Hirsh-Pasek is the Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Professor in the Department of
Psychology at Temple University where she serves as Director of the Infant Language
Laboratory. She is the recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Bronfenbrenner
Award for Lifetime Contribution to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and
Society and the American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Service to
Psychological Science, the Great Teacher Award, and the Eberman Research Award.
Daniel Heiney-Gonzalez graduated from the University of Delaware in May 2011 with a
Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a Bachelor of Science in International Business with a
double minor in Psychology and Spanish Studies. He is currently working for Stanley Black
& Decker in Houston, TX.
VOL. 13 NO. 4 2012
j
YOUNG CONSUMERS
j
PAGE 391
To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight.com
Or visit our web site for further details: www.emeraldinsight.com/reprints
... It is perhaps no surprise then, that toy retailers are motivated to present their toys as "baby brain boosters" due to the increase of caregivers' and educators' awareness of the impact of toys on children's perception and language . However, many of these claims are not based on scientific research (Calvert, 2008;Gardner, Golinkoff, Hirsh-Pasek, & Heiney--Gonzalez, 2012;Healey & Mendelsohn, 2019). ...
... However, one downside is that caregivers and children can no longer interact with toys before purchasing and must rely on user reviews, manufacturer descriptions, and advertisements for information about the benefits of toys and their functionality. At the same time, many claims made in toy advertisements and manufacturer descriptions are not connected to research in developmental science (Calvert, 2008;Gardner et al., 2012;Healey & Mendelsohn, 2019). ...
... Richards et al. (2020) also found that caregivers rely most on internet reviews for information about toys-without turning to advertising for this information. Some ads that are effective appear to be those that make educational claims-such as the ability to boost children's social and cognitive development (Gardner et al., 2012). However, in an experimental study of female caregivers of children under the age of 10, Gardner and colleagues found that caregivers who were exposed to an ad touting a toy's potential for brain development were less likely to see social and intellectual development as important for their children than caregivers who viewed an ad focusing on child development. ...
Article
Children's caregivers are their first play partners, and toys influence the quality of these caregiver-child interactions-with research suggesting that electronic toys are not as supportive of these interactions as traditional toys. In this study, we investigate (1) toy use amongst care-givers and infants, with an eye towards investigating the prevalence of traditional vs. electronic toys, (2) caregivers' preferences when selecting electronic or traditional toys for their children and (3) whether caregivers' choices are impacted by the claims made by toy manufacturers. Sixty-three primary caregivers participated in a survey asking about their toy selection decisions. Results demonstrate the prevalence of electronic toys (even for the youngest infants) as well as caregivers' preferences and the potential of toy descriptions to impact caregivers' toy purchasing decisions. Despite scientific evidence that there may be a developmental cost to electronic toys relative to traditional toys, after highlighting the toys' developmental benefits, caregivers became more likely to select electronic toys for their infant.
... Recent surveys of parents with children aged 2-10 years indicate that parents look to build their children's creativity, problem solving, social abilities, and motor skills during play (Gallup, 2017). One study found that parents preferred to give their children toys that were advertised as promoting unstructured play, as many parents believe this type of toy play is beneficial to their children (Gardner, Golinkoff, Hirsh-Pasek, & Heiney-Gonzalez, 2012). Parents will often use items traditionally thought of as instructive (e.g., flashcards) in play, suggesting that education is also an important goal when choosing toys (Fisher, Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, & Gryfe, 2008). ...
... Studies specifically examining parent toy selection and information sources have not been conducted since the proliferation of internet resources, but older studies suggest that parents rely on recommendations from other parents and advertisements as information sources when seeking facts about toys (Fallon & Harris, 1989). With that said, not all advertisement information is as valued by parents-one study suggests that parents are turned off by advertisements that boast a toy's potential to boost their children's brain development, as parents preferred toys with advertisements claiming the toy's ability to contribute to the child's social and intellectual development (Gardner et al., 2012). Nonetheless, little is known specifically about where parents obtain information about the toys that their children play with in the internet age. ...
... Regarding what parents consider when they purchase a toy, the results suggested that parents have a top interest in the educational qualities of the toy, mirroring the importance of education during play found in previous studies (Fisher et al., 2008), as well as the amount of value parents place on unstructured play that can benefit their child's social and intellectual development (Gardner et al., 2012). Parents' other chief concerns were finding toys suited to the individual child's personality and skills. ...
Article
Children frequently play with toys purchased by their parents, yet little is known about the how these toys are selected by parents. Mothers with children from 0 to 12 years of age filled out a survey about their toy purchasing habits. Results revealed that the most common place mothers sought out information about toys was online, and mothers most frequently found the manufacturers’ suggested age only somewhat accurate. Further analyses demonstrated that mothers who bought their toys from different sources (i.e., online, stores, secondhand) considered dissimilar items before purchasing a toy for their child and obtained information in distinct ways. In contrast, regardless of where mothers purchased toys, they regarded the manufacturers’ suggested age in the same way. This study is one of the few to examine parental toy selection patterns, providing useful knowledge for understanding how to reach parents and provide them information they desire when selecting toys for their children.
... The graphics were designed by an independent illustrator to avoid breaching copyright laws and the name Connexercize with a 'z' was chosen for the same reason. The design is colourful, vibrant and fun, and the game can enhance children's imagination and creativity (Gardner et al, 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
The growing incidence of obesity among children can be linked to our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and lack of physical activity from a young age. Nurses and health visitors have an important role to play in tackling the current obesity epidemic, by adopting innovative strategies to facilitating children's physical activity and making activity-promoting changes in the environment, whether this is the home or the school. One such approach – a floor-based game called Connexercize – aims to encourage physical activity among young children. This article highlights the need for such innovative approaches and discusses the process of planning, developing and piloting this particular game.
Article
Full-text available
Toys are needed paraphernalia for all children. This study employs a cross sectional purposive sample survey to target parents of 267 children (Mean Age: 3.99; SD: 1.39) below six years including 158 boys (Mean Age: 3.89; SD: 1.32) and 109 girls (Mean Age: 4.13; SD: 1.48) with and without developmental disabilities to elicit their opinions and attitudes on toys. A 25-item open ended 'Opinion Elicitation Probe on Toys' and another 20-item Likert type 'Toy Attitude Scale' was exclusively developed for use in this study. Results show that parents view their children as unable to make choices on procurement of toys and requiring guidance in their routine use. There have apprehension if toys, which involve money, would benefit their children. Parent attitudes reflect that toys are unaffordable or dispensable luxuries. They are aware that children love toys and that are different toys for various age groups. Dispensing toys to children with special needs is deemed risky or unsafe. They are undecided whether boys and girls require the same or different toys. It is felt that teaching children to read and write is better option than waste time on engagement with toys. Many parents are against technology driven digital toys. It is concluded that there is need for prescriptions on just how many minimum number or variety of toys each child must be necessarily given or made available without amounting to infringement upon their basic rights to own toys.
Chapter
Global sales of traditional toys such as dolls, action figures, and role-play games are either flat or shrinking. One of the main reasons for the slow or negative growth of sales is the increase in internet and console-based video gaming across multiple devices and platforms. Faced with this disruptive force, traditional toy makers are increasingly trying to develop toys that incorporate interactivity through software integration and mobile interconnectivity. Though the idea of creating this synergy between traditional toy hardware and emerging mobile/internet connectivity is a no-brainer, the success of such integration depends on understanding the market fundamentals of hardware and software complementarity. The responses of the toy industry thus far have been ineffective in stopping the decline of sales. This paper takes a closer look at the issue by conducting a brief survey of the traditional toy industry and trying to identify the key drivers of success and failure of such toys. We then use a few tools of marketing research to explain how traditional toy makers can leverage information and mobile technologies to re-establish themselves in a sustainable growth path.
Article
Full-text available
Infant-parent play with toys is an early form of social communication, and the toy features (i.e., affordances), as well as the child's language competence, contribute to the developmental level of the play and the types of play actions that occur. This research, conducted in cooperation with a toy manufacturer, investigated how the affordances of a technology-enhanced toy were used by 26 infant-parent pairs during six clinical sessions of play with the toy. The types of play, the features of the toy that elicited play, the humor elicited by the toy, and the communicative interactions of the parent and child were observed. Results indicated that certain affordances of the toy were used in exploration, practice play, and social games and were related to episodes of child laughter. The communicative interactions of the parents and the language patterns used in the sessions grew in complexity as the children's language facility increased. The affordances of the toy played a role in a variety of parent-child interactions and joint attention experiences.
Article
Full-text available
focuses on alternative forms of consumption, ethical consumption, and anti-consumption. Julie L. Ozanne is the Sonny Merryman Professor of Marketing, Virginia Tech, Department of Marketing (0236), Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA, 540-231-6949, 540-231-3076 (fax), jozanne@vt.edu. Her research focuses on problems of poverty, literacy, and health care and she specializes in alternative methodologies, such as interpretive, critical, feminist, and participatory action methods. Acknowledgement: Both authors contributed equally to this paper. The authors would like to acknowledge the support provided by the College of Business and Economics Research Committee of the University of Canterbury. The authors would also like to thank the toy library families for their generous contributions and the editors and reviewers for their helpful comments.
Article
Full-text available
In general, communities throughout the world hold that children have a fundamental right to play. Public policies and laws have long aimed to promote play by providing a range of financial and material resources. Toy libraries are an important resource that can provide children with vital developmental tools for play by allowing families to borrow toys in a process similar to public book libraries. An empirical study of a contemporary group of toy libraries explores how families use toy libraries to construct different social meanings. The toy library is an important way that parents can mediate their children's relationship with the marketplace. Moreover, different conceptualizations of citizenship are modeled within this institution based on the sharing of collective goods. The right to play is a child's first claim on the community. Play is nature's training for life. No community can infringe that right without doing deep and enduring harm to the minds and bodies of its citizens.
Article
Purpose – This paper aims to explore the topic of gift-giving to children, highlighting some of the issues that provide insight into how consumers might be making their choices. Design/methodology/approach – A total of 285 personal interviews were conducted using a structured questionnaire. All participants were aged 18 or over, and had purchased a gift for a child aged under-13 within the previous three months. Findings – The findings of this study are that kinship, gender of the buyer, and the presence of siblings are related to the type of gift bought, including how traditional or contemporary it is, how educational it is, and whether the gift is reflective of the child's personality. Practical implications – Understanding the purchasing behavior of shoppers giving gifts to children allows marketers to participate in important stages in societal development. Originality/value – This paper provides insight into the purchasing behavior of consumers when buying gifts for children.
Article
Purpose – The paper aims to examine the role of the media in encouraging corporate responsibility in the toy industry and question whether it acts responsibly itself in reporting in a balanced and fair way (telling toy stories) or whether it overindulges in scaremongering (telling horror stories) or in exaggerating or making false accusations (telling fairy stories). Design/methodology/approach – The paper focuses on qualitative data gathered through in-depth interviews with 15 senior toy company managers, toy retailers, representatives of the toy industry body, and with a sample of parent toy consumers. Findings – It was found that consumers generally have little knowledge about toys or the toy industry but that any negative media coverage about toys might influence or change their purchase decisions. Many managers felt that there was only limited media coverage of the toy industry and most stories were overly negative, failing to reflect the many responsible activities they pursue. A range of stories is provided that point to an important role for the media in bringing ethical issues to public attention but also indicate that greater prominence could perhaps be given to the industry's worthier practice. Practical implications – Toy companies need to continue to work closely with the media to keep them informed, particularly concerning their benevolence. They should, however, also look for other ways of communicating such care to consumers both directly and via retailers. Originality/value – The paper objectively considers the influence of the media in an important children's market and points to lessons about social responsibility for both the media and the toy industry.
Article
Purpose – This study aims to explore the relative effectiveness of a human celebrity endorser vis-à-vis a fictional celebrity or character endorser on teenage consumers' attitudes. Further, the study also seeks to assess whether the effectiveness varies depending on the nature of the product being endorsed. Design/methodology/approach – Given the purpose of the study, experimental design was used as the research methodology. In an experimental set-up three product categories (low-involvement food/low-involvement non-food/high-involvement) and two endorsers (human celebrity/fictional celebrity) and a control group were deployed in a 3×3 full factorial design on 378 teenagers. Fictitious advertisements were used as stimuli. Findings – The study suggests that, for food and non-food low-involvement product categories, the impact of a human celebrity is more than that of a fictional celebrity. Regarding the purchase intentions of teenagers, it was found that a human celebrity is more effective than a fictional celebrity in food and non-food low-involvement products. In the case of the high-involvement product, the human celebrity was not found to create favorable consumer attitudes. Research limitations/implications – The study results suggest that celebrity endorsements are useful, but the nature of the product also has an influence on success. One limitation of the study was the restriction to print advertisements. Practical implications – A major implication from the findings for the managers is that a human celebrity may not always be the right choice for any product promotion for teenagers. More specifically, for high-involvement products, celebrity endorsement needs to be handled with caution since it may not prove to be successful. Originality/value – The contribution of the study is in addressing an area that has not been very well researched as yet, and in addressing a research question that has not been investigated properly.
Article
Purpose – Health is becoming an increasingly important issue in the UK as well as the rest of Europe. Emphasis on the importance of healthy eating is ongoing for many reasons, including the growing concern about childhood obesity resulting in the ban of advertising of unhealthy foods to children in the UK in April 2007. However, although legislation has been placed upon the advertising of unhealthy food products, no such restrictions have been placed on the packaging of children's foods despite the influence of packaging on consumer buyer decisions. This paper aims to investigate the effect of packaging on children's product preferences and its ability to influence parents' buyer decision in-store. Design/methodology/approach – The study was approached from the parents' rather than the children's perspective. A quantitative approach was adopted in data collection, using a 28 item Likert scaled questionnaire administered to 150 parents, with over 95 percent response rate. Findings – The study shows that packaging does affect the product preferences of children. Also, children are particularly interested in influencing the purchase of unhealthy foods. However, parents within the study claimed that they did not succumb to their children's requests for the purchase of unhealthy food, which contradicts evidence from previous findings. Research limitations/implications – The claim by parents that they did not succumb to their children's requests for unhealthy food contradicts findings from previous research. This therefore leads to a recommendation for further studies as social desirability bias may have influenced the outcomes of the findings. Practical implications – Findings from this study can be applied within the retail and service marketing sector to provide the practitioner with information relevant to decision making on children's influence on parents buyer behavior in-store. Outcomes of the study are also important when considering the future of children's food marketing and tackling the issue of childhood obesity. Originality/value – The paper demonstrates that there is a relationship between packaging and children product preferences and children's influence on parents' buyer decision in-store.
Article
This study investigated Amazon.com's website Mechanical Turk (MTurk) as a research tool for measuring body size estimation and dissatisfaction. 160 U.S. participants completed the BIAS-BD figural drawing scale and demographic questions posted on the MTurk website. The BIAS-BD consists of 17 drawings of various male and female body sizes based on anthropometric data corresponding to a range of 60% below to 140% above the average U.S. adult. Respondents selected a drawing that best reflected their current size and ideal size. Results revealed that respondents overestimated their body size by 6% and desired an ideal size 9.2% smaller than their perceived size. Findings are compared with three previous studies using the BIAS-BD scale. A general correspondence in findings between the four studies was found. We conclude that the MTurk can serve as a viable method for collecting data on the perceptual and attitudinal aspects of body image quickly and inexpensively.
Article
This article integrates a broad range of gift-giving literature into a conceptual framework that puts the all too often overlooked construct of personal value at its core. Although there have been substantial contributions from the fields of anthropology, sociology, economics, and consumer behavior, efforts to model gift giving have failed to put the value of the gift-giving experience at the center of the exchange. Within this article, a model of the gift-giving experience that overcomes this critical shortcoming is proposed. The model establishes clear categories for breaking the giving process into easily examinable elements, and it is argued that although the concept of value is not a simple one, it should be central to any examination of the gift-giving phenomenon. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.