Brand loyalty in the absence of television
The fact that brand loyalty begins by the age of two, with children recognizing brand logos by the age of three is old news. In fact, the research was published in the early 90's. It is a fact commonly exploited by early reading programs. I used it in my preschool classroom under the innocuous name of "environmental print." We spent reading time cutting out logos and gluing them in little books so my young charges could learn the letter "M" from a McDonald's sign, "W" from WalMart and "C" from Coca Cola.

I never really viewed these activities as preparing the children to become consumers in the market. In fact, I viewed it more as exploiting the fact that they already were consumers to a higher end.

My children do not watch very much television and virtually no advertisements. That does not make them less aware of the brands around them, and even my two year old recognizes her favorite haunts by the logos out front. But they do not seem to have the fierce loyalty I remember as a child. Last year, my daughter saved her money for some My Little Ponies. When she got to the store, she realized that there were other ponies there for a lot less money. She was thrilled to get two "off brand" ponies instead of one My Little Pony, and saw nothing different between them other than the price.

It was my son, however, who gave me more pause for reflection on brand loyalty. When he began toilet training, we purchased him Cars underwear. He loves cars anyway, and particularly anything dealing with that movie. He was happy with them, and didn't see the need for wearing pants for awhile since they only covered the best part of his whole outfit.

When he was finished training, however, I purchased a package of normal white underwear. I was planning for accidents, not looking for extra motivation to get out of a diaper, and I could get twice as many for the same price. Guess which he prefers? The white ones.

He couldn't care less about brand loyalty. He wants the ones he perceives to be "big boy" underwear. He isn't identifying with the market, but with his father. That is a much better place for a child's loyalties to lie.

, , ,