21 December 2010

Consumption & Kids

So far, Tanvi has only requested (the key word!)for things saying, “Mummy, will you buy this for me?”Whether it’s a Barbie or a Doremon figurine or the kinder joy range or the Mac Donald’s Happy Meal toy collection, T.V advertisements are always behind one of her new requests. Don’t know when the requests will turn into demands. So far, I seem to have been able to reign in her wish list & not let her get away with some of her fancy demands. But for how long?

Kids are driving India’s consumption. They influence us in many of our buying decisions. (The ONLY reason I go to Mac Donald’s is for the Happy Meal toys so prominently splashed, there’s no escaping it.) David Ogilvy (the advertising legend) had said, “The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife.” Today, it is “she is your kid”. You must’ve heard of KGOY (Kids growing older, younger). Because they are maturing faster, they tune in with the world around them much faster. They are very sure about their likes, dislikes & preferences; whether it’s clothes, cars, restaurants or even holiday spots.

No wonder then, that kids are the ones, brands want to cuddle up to. No wonder, young children feature in most ads. No wonder then, that with children turning into consumers much sooner than we did, brands are widening their reach. There is an opportunity to seed the brand & logo in the minds of children who could become customers of the brand’s adult line in the future. So, Garnier Fructis Kids shampoo becomes the first contact with the brand for the child; as she grows, she can go on to use hair colors, skin care, & deodorants all under the same umbrella brand. The children’s segment is a big & serious business. Tommy, Burberry, Lilliput, Zara, a few big names. From kids wear to fashion, from toys to beauty care, they are most definitely targeted at the 0-15 age group.

I remember my own childhood. My every ‘request’ would begin with an underlying tone of negative thoughts. I’d start by saying, “Can I go for the school trip?” (School trips were a BIG deal back then!!) & but out loud, it would sound more like, “I know you will say NO. But I want to go. Pls please let me go.” And even before I’d complete the sentence, my eyes would fill up with tears & choke my throat. This was because of my ‘imagining’ that they would deny my request.

I don’t remember asking anything with a positive attitude. It would invariably be a “NO” at the back of my mind. Interestingly & quite surprisingly though, my mother never actually said no to me or denied me anything. It was hard on her; I realized that much later but she did give me everything I asked. But asking something from my parents was always a tortuous thing for me. I would die a 100 deaths before I could finish my plea. But today, kids know how to ask & also to not take No for an answer.

Rama Bijapurkar (the author of “We are like that only “) says “The objective of life’s work for an Indian, whether rich or poor, is to give his children escape velocity into a higher orbit of living”. True, isn’t it?!

I definitely want Tanvi to go beyond the orbit of living I have gone as compared to that of my mother. My struggle, however, is to not limit this to her clothes & footwear & bags. I want her to go beyond. Along with her accessories, I want to be able to shape her thinking & the way she looks at life, like my mother did mine. I want her to enjoy the world of consumption, which my mother couldn’t but I sure do now, in my late 20’s &early 30’s. There is nothing wrong with being a consumerist. I just wish she doesn’t enslave herself to it. I hope she learns to stop & think & maybe even say No when needed.


  1. Kids have indeed become very much brand conscious.The only demand I placed as a kid was " I want that chocolate or that cake".It was always food for me,then it turned into picture magazines like Nat Geo,then it was stuffed toys and then war happened and had to put an end to making wishlists.I dont like kids going I want to wear that brand exactly.What if one cannot afford it!I think kids early on should learn that all that they ask cannot be granted unto them.Its an important life lesson but in the end ,its the parents who put this habit of brand thingies as kids.I see it here all the time.

  2. @ suzaan: true. brands seems to be imp these days

  3. True. The number of kids has indeed gone up in ads. Afterall who can resist buying products when the face of that really cute baby assails you with her big wide open eyes!