Kids and branding in a digital world

Barrie Gunter
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Brands are introduced into the lives of consumers from an early age. Even before they start school, they can recognise brand names and ask for brands by name. The meaning of brands to children can vary dramatically with age. As with other aspects of consumer socialisation, children’s initial orientation towards brands occurs at a superficial level because their level of cognitive development does not allow them to understand deeper-seated symbolic meanings of brands.

This book examines these processes and how they evolve over the different stages of childhood. It considers specific models of cognitive development and how they inform what we know about the way children engage with brands. It also examines the way brands have adopted new promotional platforms in the digital era and in consequence the ways in which they have taken on new forms that often disguise their true purpose.

While children can begin the understand the nature and purpose of advertising from well before their teen years, when advertising is less overt and more subtle – as it often is in the promotional techniques used by brands in online social media and virtual environments – this can impede a child’s ability to recognise what is going on. This book examines these phenomena and considers their implications for the future regulation of brand promotions.

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‘The digital world has facilitated children's brand awareness (for better or worse) and armed brand promoters with increasingly subtle ways of reaching children. Consequently, Gunter's discussion is about early childhood development as well as business...Gunter's provocative text provides a well-researched, clearly presented introduction to the emergence and development of children's brand consciousness and various related issues in clear and explicit language. It is a must read for anybody interested in the confluence of human development and technology.'
S. A. Schulman, CUNY Baruch College
July 2016

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