Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Young Consumers, Volume 16, Issue 2
Welcome to the second issue of volume 16 of Young Consumers. We have our usual international mix of nations and nationalities represented here with authors from Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Sweden, the USA and Vietnam. Topics include perception of social media, student food service experience, microcredit use and self-identity, children’s walking behaviour and obesity, images of infancy in marketing, a review of social marketing to under 12 s associated with healthy eating and physical activity, consumer socialisation within extended families and gender perceptions of advertising by Chinese youth.
I have chosen a paper that examined the content of direct marketing to parents as the lead article for this issue for several reasons. The original paper was presented at CTC2014 which is a biennial conference on child and teen consumption where it was given the Emerald Award for best paper by a young researcher, Johanna Sjöberg from Linköping University in Sweden. Johanna is the author of this revised version which looks at the commercial discourse associated with “the infant” in Sweden. The evidence base was direct marketing to parents. Although there is plenty of previous work on images of childhood and adolescence, the infant is a relatively neglected area and here we have an original and exciting analysis of the content of direct marketing. Three dominant images are identified – those of the angel, the adventurer and the transformer – and we are given examples in a finely tuned argument justifying these three representations. It is to be hoped that our international audience reading Young Consumers will be inspired to conduct similar research in their own culture to extend the excellent analysis of Dr Sjöberg.
Next, we have a couple of papers in the area of social marketing to Young Consumers. The first one sets the stage with a literature review. Krzysztof Kubacki and her colleagues Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, Ville Lahtinen and Joy Parkinson from Griffith University in Australia provide a useful analysis of the use of social marketing in the twenty-first century in interventions targeting children. Using systematic review techniques, they identify and describe these interventions which all targeted behaviours associated with either physical activity or healthy eating among children under the age of 12. Kubacki’s review will be invaluable for researchers in this growing field. Lisa Schuster from Queensland University of Technology in Australia with her colleagues Krzysztof Kubacki and Sharyn Rundle-Thiele from Griffith University give us the tantalising title “A theoretical approach to segmenting children’s walking behaviour”. This is an exciting approach to market segmentation in the context of behaviour changes that can benefit society and it is good to see social marketing papers appearing in our journal. Given the global obesity crisis, an approach that analyses the behaviour of children walking to and from school provides a valuable contribution to this multifactorial problem. The analysis is framed in the Theory of Planned Behaviour which will be familiar to many readers.
Torgeir Aleti from Victoria University in Australia with his colleagues Linda Brennan (RMIT University, Australia) and Lukas Parker (RMIT University, Vietnam) were interested in consumer socialisation, but their paper avoids the pitfall of much early research in this area where a one-way traffic between parent and child is assumed. Instead they look at how consumer knowledge is transferred among family members in multi-generational families. Bronfenbrenner’s concept of the mesosystem is also used. As well as being conceptually sophisticated, the research that is reported examines over 200 families in Vietnam and analyses the results within a family level, thus avoiding assumptions of who is agent and who is learner. Here is a top-quality paper in consumer socialisation.
Charles Jebarajakirthy and Antonio C. Lobo from the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia were concerned about war-affected youth, an all-too-common condition unfortunately in war-ravaged countries. They argue that microcredit where loans are offered to motivate entrepreneurial activity can transform not just the local economies but have the additional benefit of positively influencing self-identity. They sampled well over 1,000 microcredit recipients in Sri Lanka and found that this argument was supported by the evidence.
Research into social media is increasing, especially with youth markets. Huan Chen from Penn State Erie in the USA has provided us with a valuable set of perceptions held by Young Consumers about Twitter. Using qualitative methods including an interpretive phenomenological approach (IPA), Dr Chen was able to extract a variety of different themes that consumers used. So it is seen as a smartphone medium that is cool and used frequently and is intertwined with other daily routines. These kinds of insights will be valuable to marketers and media researchers alike, especially when contrasted with other social media like Facebook.
Kara Chan with her colleague Yu Leung Ng from Hong Kong Baptist University conducted a focus group study using Chinese adolescents. They were interested in ideal female images and used gendered advertisements to stimulate discussion. They found that female interviewees identified with the urban sophisticate and aspired to the cultured nurturer image but rejected the strong woman and the “flower vase” female images. These findings make a valuable contribution to the cross-cultural literature on gender perceptions of advertising by youth.
Faizan Ali from the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia with Kisang Ryu at Sejong University in the Republic of Korea have explored the student foodservice experience at a large Malaysian University. Universities worldwide are becoming more competitive and the quality of the “student experience” is discussed extensively by management in universities. This paper used a large sample and quantitative analysis and concluded that the product (food), price, service and healthfulness are important for customer satisfaction. These results are of practical importance for those researchers looking at the international student experience, in particular the service provision.
I hope you enjoy each and every one of them. Finally many thanks to all our reviewers and contributors without whom these regular issues would not be possible.
Brian Young - Editor