Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Young Consumers, Volume 15, Issue 4
Welcome to the last issue of Young Consumers for 2014. This quarter, we have our usual assortment of international papers that come from the USA and China, Hong Kong (China), Scotland, England, Belgium, India and Brazil. I have chosen as the lead paper one that deals with adolescents and their consumption of new media. This struck me as innovative, as it avoids the usual utopian or dystopian visions that characterise much of the discourse that surrounds our adventures with and within the World Wide Web. Either the Internet is viewed as a brave new world that opens our imagination and provides limitless opportunities for future generations of children and youth or else it is seen as a dark and dangerous place where the worst aspects of human nature and behaviour are on show. We know that either (or both) of these themes play well in the media who know a good story when they see one. Renato Hübner Barcelos and Carlos Alberto Vargas Rossi, both from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil pose a simple research question: How do adolescents consume social media? They then analyse social media with the assumption that it is a paradoxical medium with both positive and negative impacts that are intrinsic to the medium, thus avoiding the traps I’ve described. Using their model, adolescents are able to utilise behaviours that enable them to derive maximum benefit from social media while minimizing the effort required using them.
There are two papers in the area of food practices and consumption – a field which is still popular with our readers and contributors. Anne Veeck from Western Michigan University and her colleagues in America and China give us a vivid picture of how adolescents in urban China cope with and adapt their food habits to the pressures of contemporary life. In particular, the pressure they have with time management in their intensely competitive school lives where grades and success matter so much. Underlying their snacking and fast food consumption is an underlying anxiety with food safety. Here is another valuable contribution to the growing cross-cultural research on food, children and youth. Vicki Harman and Benedetta Cappellini from Royal Holloway University of London were interested in one locus of food consumption that many children are familiar with – the lunch box. In this exploratory study, using interviews and focus groups with mothers of 9-11-year-olds, the authors illustrate that mums are savvy to the extent they realise the transgressive nature of lunch boxes where the food package is part of the fun food world of children’s food.
Elizabeth Thomson and Russell Williams from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland have explored soccer and how children relate to it. Soccer (aka “football”) is an integral part of many people’s lives there and “fandom” has been researched with adults. Children, however, relate to it somewhat differently and using perceptive qualitative techniques, these authors provide valuable insights into these children’s lives.
Ellen Quintelier from Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven in Belgium was interested in what sort of personality types might relate to political consumerism in youth – the political and environmental motivations to consume ethically. The relationship between personality as measured by psychologists and behaviour in a socio-political arena can be seen as problematic and the author navigates through this with care. Large samples from data sets of several thousand teens and young adults (21-year olds) were used and the results confirm other findings in associated areas of environmental concern.
Kara Chan and her colleagues from Hong Kong Baptist University examined how gender roles in advertising are understood by young Chinese consumers who lived in “second-tier” cities in China – not the great metropolises but smaller cities with high investment and rapid change. They found that young women consumers there appreciated advertisements using women more than male participants irrespective of the stereotype used, e.g. cute female or career-minded woman.
Neena Sondhi and Rituparna Basu at the International Marketing Institutes in Delhi and Kolkata turned their attention to consumer socialisation in India. It is vital to extend research cross-culturally in this core area, and India as an emerging market with a youthful population and collectivist values and Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) dynamism is a very suitable place to do just this. Their well-referenced and systematic quantitative study provides a valuable addition to this important field.
Finally, we have our regular paper looking at regulatory aspects of advertising to children on a country-by-country basis. This quarter we look at Korea with a paper by Brian Chung Oh and Kee-Hong Chung of Kim & Chang in Seoul. As usual, these are coordinated by the Global Advertising Lawyer’s Alliance (GALA), and I am grateful to Stacy Bess from their New York office for all the help and assistance she provides with each issue.
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