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A cross cultural perspective on children’s understanding of commercial communications Kara Chan, Hong Kong Baptist U James U. McNeal, Peking U Economic socialization conference July 11-12, 2003 Exeter, UK exeter
Why study Chinese children? • 290 million Chinese children under 14 (population of UK: 59 million) • One child policy since 1979 • Children have great influence on family purchase decisions • China has rapid economic growth: 8% per year • Children in China is a huge market for global advertisers exeter
Advertising in China • Modern advertising returned in 1979 • Advertising development highly uneven: Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong accounted for 50% of advertising expenditure in 2001 • Children’s programme: About 8 hours per day, mainly in CCTV1 and CCTV7, few in regional channels • television programme sponsorship was very common, even in weather forecast exeter
…Advertising in China • Many illegal ads (e.g. 66824 in 2000, among which 39% were illegal outdoor ads and 30% were illegal print ads) • Lack of specific regulation of advertising that targeted to children • Article 8 of advertising law, “Ad may not be harmful to the physical and mental health of minors and disabled persons” exeter
Theoretical model • consumer socialization as the process by which consumers acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to operate as consumers (Ward, 1974) • Socializing agents, a person or an organization that provides influence through frequent interaction with an individual, primacy over the individual or control over rewards and punishments given to the individual (Brim, 1966) • parents, friends, TV as socializing agents exeter
Cognitive developmental model Social learning model From parents Understanding of Commercial communications Social learning model From TV exeter
Research objectives • To examine the relative contribution of the cognitive developmental model and the social learning model with a focus on TV and parents as socializing agents in the predicting of children’s understanding of commercial communications exeter
Cognitive developmental model • Age has positive impact on understanding exeter
Social learning model from parents • Socio-oriented communication (-) • Concept-oriented communication (+) • Discussing TV commercials (+) • Co-viewing of TV (+) • Parents’ negative attitude (+) • Parents’ perceived influence (+) exeter
Social learning model from TV • Level of TV viewing (+) • Attention to TV commercials (+) exeter
additional variables • Gender (?) • Social Economic status (+) • Level of advertising development (+) • Presence of PSAs (-) exeter
Method • Survey of 1,758 children in 3 urban cities Beijing, Nanjing and Chengdu representing high, medium and low levels of advertising development, respectively • Two schools for each city, randomly select one class in each grade (grade 1 to 6) • Close-ended questionnaire • Grade 1-2, read Q&A to them by researchers • Sample: 1751 (response rate: 99.6%) exeter
Map of China exeter
Method • Survey of their parents by asking children to bring home a questionnaire for mothers/fathers • Sample: 1665 (response rate: 94.7%) • Matched pair with children exeter
Procedure • When we watch TV, some messages occur before and after the television program that are not related to the program. They are called commercials • What are TV commercials? • What do TV commercials want you to do? • Why do TV stations broadcast commercials? exeter
What are TV commercials? (%) exeter
Understanding by age (%) exeter
General findings • Cognitive developmental model contributes more than social learning model • Parents plays insignificant role in children’s understanding of commercial communication • Attention to TVC has negative impact on understanding exeter
Why parents do not play an important role in consumer socialization? • Parents grew up in period of material shortage and did not have abundant consumer experience, they are incompetent consumers • Parents not motivated to talk about consumption • Parents and children too busy • Discussion about TV commercials: emphasize on moral education exeter
Future studies • Focus group interview about sources of knowledge about TV commercials • Experimental design to test the impact of PSAs on understanding of commercial and non-commercial communications • Why children’s understanding deviates from the cognitive developmental model? exeter
Show some TV segments • Nanjing • Beijing exeter