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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Young Consumers, Volume 16, Issue 4
Welcome to the fourth issue of Volume 16 of Young Consumers. Firstly, I have some good news about our emerging status and reputation with abstracting and indexing services. Web of Science has launched their Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI) and we are a member. According to Thomson Reuters, we have joined “high-quality, peer-reviewed publications […] in emerging scientific fields”. This means that publishing in Young Consumers enables your paper to be given yet another link into the international world of scientific publications.
Looking now at the content of this quarter’s issue, we have our usual international mix of nations and nationalities represented here, with authors from Canada, Australia, the USA and India. They have delivered papers that look at aspects of food consumption in children and youth, such as ethnographic research of preschoolers' food behaviours and a critique of obesity research in adolescence. Also you can read a critique and reconstruction of a key concept in consumer socialisation, learn about Facebook boredom and pore over advergames and brand recall and attitudes in youth. Here are summaries of these papers and others in Volume 16 (Issue 4).
The lead paper is empirical, but the main contribution is conceptual. It struck me as important because it posed a challenge and provided a solution. How we categorise the communicative influences families experience as the younger members of the family grow up needs a more systemic approach where contributions from the cultural values of all members of the group are operating. And this is what the authors have done, very successfully. Aleti Torgeir from Monash University in Australia together with his colleagues Linda Brennan and Lukas Parker have produced an analysis of a construct in consumer socialisation which, in my opinion, reinvigorates and makes a significant advance in the field for the twenty-first century. For many decades since the late 70s, we have read about how family communication patterns, and in particular socio- versus concept- orientations, can result in different patterns of consumer socialisation. The authors make a convincing case that change is needed to do justice to how families consume today and make an excellent contribution to the general literature on socialisation within families.
The next group of papers look at eating behaviour primarily in the context of health. Food, culture and associated consumer behaviours have always been a popular theme in Young Consumers, and this issue is no exception. Michelle R. Nelson, Brittany Duff and Regina Ahn at the University of Illinois at Urbana have contributed a paper on preschool children’s perceptions of the visual aspect of snack packaging as well as their nutrition knowledge. The interesting result is that some children at this age are aware of heuristic links between ingredients and health, so that sugar is bad and fruit is good. The character on the pack dominates and all children selected the character fruit snack as their preferred choice. Some children were able to understand that their parents’ choices may be different from their own. More research needs to be done with young children in this area, given the importance of early dietary patterns and the role that packaging plays in marketing to children.
Steven Kline from Simon Fraser University in Canada has given us a closely argued piece that critically examines issues surrounding obesity in teens in the USA. His argument centres round a construct which he calls reflexive embodiment. It is well-known in the literature that adolescents can have distorted perceptions of their own bodies as they are growing up and this can have consequent effects on their mental well-being. Kline develops this idea as the way individuals interpret and evaluate their own body morphology in relationship to the medical profession’s articulation of norms for weight classes. When this is played out against a backdrop of media discussion that according to Kline is akin to a moral panic, then a new vision of the so-called obesity epidemic is revealed.
Regina Ahn and Michelle R. Nelson at the University of Illinois at Urbana studied preschool children in a nursery school setting. Adopting an ethnographic position and using both participant and non-participant observation, they were able to explore the eating behaviour of children in a natural setting. This is a very readable and insightful paper and provides a rich picture of a largely hidden world of childhood.
Francisco Jose Crespo Casado and Sharon Rundle-Thiele from Griffith University in Australia take a social marketing position on children’s diets with an analysis of the content of lunchboxes for children at school and the perceived benefits and barriers towards putting healthy foods into the lunchboxes. They established a link between these two sets of observations and have established the lunchbox contribution towards a more healthy diet for children as an important factor. Interventions to promote the benefits of healthy eating while overcoming the perceived (and real) barriers that prevent healthy lunches from being packed now need to be encouraged.
Finally, we have two valuable papers on new media. Sreejesh Surendran and Devika Vashisht at the IBS in Hyderabad, India, have delivered a detailed and sophisticated analysis of the impact of different kinds of advergames on brand recall and attitude among young Indian gamers. These 17-20-year-olds were put into different experimental conditions and the authors carefully take the reader through some complex findings. Essential reading for those readers interested in the effects of new media and how brands in a gaming context can be enhanced.
Mathew Joseph of St Mary’s University in Texas with his colleagues Atefeh Yazdanparast and Anita Qureshi are interested in Facebook usage, and in particular how youth consumers who have been accustomed to this social medium for some time now might be bored with it. Advertisers who use social media should be particularly interested in the findings from this exploratory study, and academics will note the appropriateness of using a uses and gratification approach to research in this area.
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