Materialistic kids expect more gifts for Christmas


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The holiday season is known as “the season for giving” and materialistic youth expect their parents to give them more presents, reminds a Penn State Smeal College of Business marketing researcher.

Buy me more. “Parents who are materialistic tend to have children who are more materialistic and my research documents that materialistic children expect parents to spend more on presents during the holiday season,” said Marvin Goldberg, professor of marketing in Penn State’s Smeal College of Business.

Goldberg is lead author of a national study examining materialism in 9- to 14-year-olds. The study is titled “Understanding Materialism Among Youth.”

Pressure to spend. “More materialistic youths also exert more influence or pressure on their parents with regard to the purchase process,” said Goldberg. “More highly materialistic youths were more likely to ask their parents for products they saw advertised on TV or in the store.”

Goldberg explains that marketing efforts aimed at youngsters may indeed be robbing children of their childhood and making kids more materialistic.

Demographics. “Over the past decade or so marketers have increasingly targeted the 27 million youth that are 9-14 years old. Midway between early childhood and adolescence, they have been labeled ‘tweens’ and this subsegment has drawn the attention of a broad array of marketers,” said Goldberg.

“Materialistic 9-to 14-year-olds – called ‘tweens’ – are most interested in new products and most responsive to advertising and promotional efforts. Their parents view them as more expert with regard to the products and these children wield more purchase influence on their parents.”

Kids influence sales. Children account directly for an estimated $36 billion in sales annually and when their indirect influence over far-ranging product decisions from stereos to vacations is considered, the estimate of the total economic spending impacted by children in the U.S. is $290 billion, notes Goldberg.

It is estimated that by age 10 the average child makes five trips a week either to a store or a shopping center.


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