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400 million Chinese children face serious "affluenza"
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16:14, June 04, 2009

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China's 400 million children will be the economic savior of this consumption country, according to a report by Hong Kong media.

That means 400 million Chinese children are facing serious "affluenza", according to Southern Metropolis Weekly.

Child shopaholic

Surveys from 11 nations found out that youngsters aged between 8 and 14 already have independent brand preferences and are influenced by flourishing media.

They are exposed to an average of 40,000 commercials a year, and control and influence 60 percent of their parents' consumption choices.

They decide 300 billion USD of consumption worldwide per annum and influence consumption choices worth over 1 trillion USD.

In China, annual per capita consumption of children in metropolis such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou already reached as high as 10,700 yuan several years ago, while urban residents' per capita annual disposable income in 2008 was only 15,781 yuan.

Fierce "tweens"

The phenomena that children pay attention to brands and that their independent awareness of shopping is increasing, is closely related to factors including modern flourishing media, widespread early childhood education and economic globalization.

In fact, this change was already pointed out in "BRANDchild," a book written by Martin Lindstrom of the US in 2003 based on 500-person surveys conducted in 11 nations.

It called the youngsters aged between 8 and 14 "tweens." It said although their consumption has to rely on parents, they have independent brand preferences and are affected by flourishing media.

They are exposed to an average of 40,000 commercials a year, and control and influence 60 percent of their parents' consumption choices.

They decide 300 billion USD of consumption worldwide per annum and influence the consumption choices worth over 1 trillion USD.

The biggest marketing significance of Lindstrom's research is he coined a word "KGOY" (Kids Getting Older Younger). He pointed out that their most prominent characteristic is they think they are adult consumers.

Although Lindstrom also listed China's “tweens” into his scope of research in his book, six years ago Chinese children, strictly speaking, were still some distance away from becoming real "tweens."

The proportion of "tweens" among Chinese kids at the end of 2003 was so tiny that they could be ignored form calculation.

Nevertheless, time has changed all that. Over the past six years, more Chinese children have begun to have their own personal accounts. In China's first-tier cities, the proportion of children with access to the Internet has already reached 40 to 50 percent.

A report reveals that in nearly 80 percent of working-class three-member households, the monthly consumption of the child is even greater than the adults. Consumption by children has become such a heavy burden that more families are unable to shoulder.

Chinese children's excessive consumption highlights the pursuit of famous brands, the particular attention paid to product styles, the worship of foreign products and a taste for luxury.

Who is stimulating the stomachs of children's consumption?

"My granddaughter is 10 years old. Guess what she said today after drinking a beverage; super cool!”, said Ma Mouchao, a research fellow and a Ph.D. advisor of the Institute of Psychology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

In his opinion, the emergence of the "generation of tweens" is a natural result of social development. "Children follow the life styles of adults; calling via mobile phone, playing PSP game console and using digital camera. TV culture is not the only factor affecting brand recognition by children; their personal experiences are a more important factor. As for the children, these behaviors are simply ways to know brands, and cannot be prevented by others. "

Zhou Yongkai, former director of PR department of Yangshengtang Company, noted that "children’s nature makes it easy for them to fall into addiction, become a target influenced by commercial chains. The traditional distribution channels have restricted consumption by children, and are not easy to lead to crazy consumption by children. However, many products are using the latest marketing approaches to break through this restriction at home or abroad. There is no doubt that, this will actually result in crazy consumption by children."

While serving at Yangshentang, Zhou discovered that it doesn't matter whether the product is "Nongfu Spring" or the later launched "Happy Growing", once a product is positioned as a fast-moving, family-oriented consumer good, the main audience the producer will target in the first round of promotion ought to be children. The marketing of the above two products were actually conducted in exactly this way.

By People's Daily Online

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