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17 December 2012

TV Commercials Source of Inspiration For British Children’s Wish Lists

Keywords: Christmas, advertising, television, Western Europe, consumer behavior, decision making, experiment, interview, kids, marketing, marketing strategy, persuasion, persuasive tactics, purchase requests,

A study in the Journal of Development & Behavioral Pediatrics reveals that holiday season TV advertising is quite successful in influencing British 6-to 8-year olds. About half of their requests to Father Christmas are for products advertised on television.

Take aways

  • Children who watch television frequently ask Father Christmas for more toys seen in commercials than children who watch television less frequently. 
  • Children who favor commercial TV channels request more advertised toys than children who favor non-commercial channels. 
  • Heavily advertised products prevail on children’s wish lists. 
  • All this suggests that television advertising is quite successful in influencing the Christmas wish lists of 6-to 8-year old children. 

Study information

  • The question?

    What is the influence of television viewing and advertising on children’s requests to father Christmas?

  • Who?

    110 6-to 8-year olds (52 boys and 46 girls from households with various incomes)

  • Where?

    Hertfordshire, UK

  • How?

    To determine children’s television viewing habits, the researchers asked the children questions like “how often do you watch television?” and “what is your favorite television program?” In addition, they studied the Christmas wish lists children wrote at school. To get an idea of the holiday season advertising, the researchers analyzed a selection of pre-Christmas TV programming.

Facts and findings

  • Children’s wish list contained an average of four items.
  • Of these four items, two were advertised for in the period leading up to the Christmas. 
  • Children who watched television frequently requested more advertised toys than less frequent viewers. 
  • Children who preferred commercial channels requested more advertised toys than non-commercial viewers. 
  • Heavily advertised toys appeared more often on the wish lists than less advertised toys. 
  • Girls requested more advertised toys than boys. 
  • An explanation could be that the number of commercials targeted at girls was much higher than those targeted at boys. From the 2,523 commercials recorded in the six weeks prior to the holidays, 942 were for girls, 645 for boys, and 936 were not gender-specific.