Young Consumers in the US and the Netherlands Are Not the Same
As children in both the United States and the Netherlands grow up in a Western industrialized country where consumerism has become pervasive, one would expect them to socialize, develop and behave as consumers in the same way. However, this is not the case, a study in the Journal of Children and Media shows. There are considerable differences, for example in how much children in the US and the Netherlands are involved in family shopping and consumer decisions, and in how often they ask for and argue about advertised products.
- Compared to children in the Netherlands, children in de US:
- are more involved in family shopping and consumer decision making;
- more often ask for and argue about consumer goods.
- These differences may be attributable to the differences in the advertising culture and media environment between the two countries.
- When targeting international markets, child marketers and advertisers should consider cross-national differences in advertising and media contexts because this can affect the way children develop and behave as consumers.
Do children in the US and the Netherlands differ with respect to their consumer socialization, development and behavior?
1391 mothers of children between the ages of 5 to 12 (954 mothers from the US and 437 mothers from the Netherlands; mean age child American sample: 8 years old & 50% were boys; mean age child Dutch sample: 8 years old & 52% were boys).
The US and the Netherlands
The mothers filled out a survey including questions about their child’s consumer socialization (family consumer communication, involvement of the child in family shopping habits), consumer development (understanding of advertising intent and tactics, understanding of social meaning of consumption), and consumer behavior (purchase requests and purchase conflict). They were also asked about their child’s media use and the child’s access to media in their bedroom or in the home.
Facts and findings
- As compared to children in the Netherlands, children in the US:
- were more likely to talk with their parents about consumer matters;
- were more often involved in family shopping;
- were more likely to focus on the social aspects of consumption (for example, caring about what other people think about their consumption);
- asked their parents for nearly 30% more consumer goods;
- were more likely to argue with their parents about consumer goods.
- According to the authors, there are several possible explanations for these differences:
- The US has a longer history of advertising to children and is more welcoming to advertising and consumerism than the Netherlands.
- The US has less stringent regulations than the Netherlands; as a result, the disparities related to commercial exposure are likely much greater.
- The media environments of children in the US and the Netherlands are different: American children see roughly 350 more hours of television per year which could mean seeing thousands more commercials each year.
- Interestingly, children in the US and the Netherlands did not differ with respect to their understanding of advertising’s commercial intent and persuasive tactics.