Or do you? With the growing plethora of consumer choices available, brand managers find themselves fighting a cutthroat war to win new customers to their brand. While most would think of winning over consumers from a competitor, some savvy advertisers have decided to hit below the belt, literally. With every brand possessing only two potential sources of new consumers, brand managers either convince consumers to switch loyalty or they target their would-be consumers before they have even entered the market.

As Prof James McNeal of Texas A&M University observed,

“Children are a future market for all goods and services who have all their purchases ahead of them. If cultivated now, they will provide a steady stream of new customers when they reach market age for a firm.”

Child psychologists have found that children, unlike adults, are receptive to advertising. Cynicism and mistrust of commercials and advertisements only set in during teenage years, so non-kid brands could well benefit from sowing the seeds of loyalty early on in childhood when the mind is fertile ground. An example would be Ford Motors which is now using kid-friendly design in their direct advertising in the hopes of winning future customers before they even enter the car market as teenagers shopping for their first car.

Besides the possibility of pre-recruiting a loyal consumer, children also represent an alternative medium for advertisers to make themselves heard by the adults. Surveys have shown that with the shrinking nuclear family, children’s role as purchase-influencers within the Asian family has expanded. According to the 1999 New GenerAsiansÔ survey, Asian children now exercise a say in non-kid product categories as diverse as meals within and without the home, music CDs and even the choice of the family PC.

With the growing affluence of the post-crisis Asian region, this trend looks set to grow following the path of developed markets like the US and Europe. Advertisers ignore this trend at their own peril because they will eventually have to get a grip on this audience as it matures.

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Understanding today’s Asian children as consumers and coming to terms with the market potential of tomorrow’s consumers are just two of the issues which Asian marketers will be discussing at a two day conference to be held between 26th and 27th September in Singapore. Over 15 experts from corporations and research firms in Asia will be giving practical presentations focused on exploring the full potential of the kids market in Asia.