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Advertising versus Previous Experience

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Earlier this week, I was reading how marketing affects how children perceive food at Get Rich Slowly. The original study claims that low-income children from age 3-5 perceived store-bought food in McDonalds' wrappers as better tasting.

Five immediate thoughts came to mind:

  1. Was it advertising or marketing that made the food appear to be taster... or was it the positive previous experience that the children had with the restaurant's food? Its one thing to be drawn in by marketing, but quite another to project positive past memory to a current experience. The article mentioned that "Just two of the 63 children studied said they'd never eaten at McDonald's, and about one-third ate there at least weekly." It would be interesting to find out what those two children who had no previous experience with McDonald's thought of the food. Did the advertising on television and radio affect them or did they surmise the food was nothing better than store bought versions? Of course two children wouldn't be a very good sample size.
  2. Is it really all that surprising that advertising towards children age 3-5 could be successful? Wasn't this something that we already knew? What parent hasn't had his/her child asked for a product that they just saw on television?
  3. Can we apply such a study to adults? Perhaps adults are equally or even more susceptible to advertising. However, perhaps they've learned to look for the quality behind the name. We know that children's brains are still formulating opinions on things as they learn their way through the world, while adults often have developed strong opinions based on their previous experiences. Perhaps this is like comparing apples to transmissions as my wife likes to say.
  4. J.D. at Get Rich Slowly wondered how children would react to generic toys similar to "Thomas the Tank Engine" and "Bob the Builder." My guess is that it wouldn't go over very well. The reason is that they are different products. It's not Timmy the Tank Engine that the child watches on TV, it's Thomas. Adults have the same bias against generic products as well. There are a number of knock-off purses in NYC that can be had for 10% of the cost of the real deal. What interests me is when people choose generic medications when they know that the United States applies the same quality controls to generics to make sure that it's the same product.
  5. How did they find 63 low-income children in San Mateo? This is right where I live and the housing is up there with the highest in the country. Wages have risen to match. This point is tongue-in-cheek, but it bared mentioning that it's out of the norm.

Posted on August 23, 2007.

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3 Responses to “Advertising versus Previous Experience”

  1. Xias says:

    I definitely think that advertising to children is often employed an effective way to motivate the parents to do/buy something. If kids in that age group were not exposed to commercials advertising a toy/product, I wonder what they want for Christmas/Birthdays etc.?

  2. Steve says:

    While housing prices and wages are up in San Mateo county, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t low income people living there. Who cleans the houses, landscapes, and takes care of the high-wage employees’ children? It is estimated that about 50,625 people live in poverty in San Mateo county (7.3%). Just something to keep in mind. I think it’s probably easy to find 63 low-income children anywhere in the United States.

  3. Jon says:

    I’ve avoided generic medications after my sister told me about some of her experiences working at DuPont. She was involved in making various materials used in electronics (circuit boards, alloys, so on). One of the things they did to ensure quality was order huge batches of chemicals — enough for all of the development, testing, product, and future product maintenance (these were often small-run projects for big clients). When a process is developed, there are so many variables that it’s impossible to know the interaction of everything. If they did ever run out of chemicals, they would order the exact same thing from the same supplier, but they would still have to make little adjustments to the production line because there would be tiny differences that ultimately caused the product to not meet requirements.

    Drugs are different I suppose because organisms are often a lot less sensitive to variation than man-made stuff, but it nevertheless worries me that the FDA’s generic equivalence test is pretty much limited to whether the generic has the same amount of active ingredient and that it delivers it in the same way. After hearing about how a change in humidity on the factory floor could affect the characteristics from one batch of chemicals to the next, I just don’t trust generics that much.

    I wish drug companies would just drop prices on older drugs so that they were equivalent to generics.

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