Children as vulnerable consumers
In recent years, companies have started to pay more attention on digital marketing. Moreover, even there, we can see huge developments, direct marketing and advertising are being replaced with trust, storytelling and content marketing. When we look at the trends for 2016, live-streaming, video innovation, social media and social marketing are at the top. Often advertising is being so cleverly hidden, that you do not even realise, that actually a company sells you an idea of a product.
That is why children are increasingly exposed to online marketing, especially if you think how much time they spend time online and how television has to a great extent been replaced by Internet both as an information source and a leisure activity. The Internet has also overtaken television as the medium for advertising.
I am glad, that the European Commission has funded a research project that studied the scope and effects of online marketing on children. Shortly, the study provides novel insights into the prevalence and characteristics of online marketing targeting children, how children's behaviour is influenced by these marketing practices, and how online marketing is regulated across Europe. Unfortunately, the findings are as predicted – children do not always understand, what is marketing. Moreover, embedded advertisements affect children's behaviour without them being aware of it.
This topic becomes more and more relevant, especially in the context of Digital Single Market, increasing e-commerce and constantly changing and developing marketing world. There is no point thinking that it does not affect us. As parents, teachers, consumer education specialists, we should talk more to children and students about marketing, its hidden agendas and risks.