Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Young Consumers, Volume 9, Issue 1.
This issue is the first one of volume 9 so welcome to 2008 and a new year for Young Consumers. When I took over as editor I told you my plans in my first editorial of last year’s issue. I wanted to extend the range of topics to cover all the research and insights that come under the general heading of consumption practices in children and youth. To do this we need papers from across the world and also from all the different traditions of scholarly and serious inquiry. This eclectic approach can be found in academic publishing and the Journal of Consumer Research is one such example. We have succeeded beyond all expectation with the first of the goals and we are now an international journal with a worldwide readership. But we are still missing some of the more interpretive and qualitative approaches to the study of children living in a world of consumers and consumption. So please spread the word that there is a journal called Young Consumers that would be happy to consider research in that area.
I have represented the journal at two important conferences in 2007. One in Hong Kong was primarily targeted at practitioners in the Asia-Pacific region with an interest in the child and youth market so I was able to get the message across to practitioners. The other was in Memphis, Tennessee at the annual North American conference of the Association for Consumer Research (ACR). Getting our brand known in the USA and Canada is vital just because so much high quality English language research is done there. In 2008 I hope to be at the Child and Teen Consumption conference in Trondheim, Norway.
Turning now to the content of this issue, we have three papers dealing with what might be called problem products. The first two, co-authored by Debra Harker from Australia, are on alcohol consumption in women students and on food motives of young adults using a social marketing framework. For those readers unfamiliar with this approach then there is an informative discussion of social marketing in the papers. The authors conclude that social marketing intervention strategies, which go beyond advertising, could provide a basis for influencing the behavior of their sample, and consumption charts could be designed that would educate and alert students to the dangers of different drinking behaviors. In the food paper the authors found that gender and work hours significantly influenced food motives; but place of residence, age and gross income did not influence healthy food choices in Australia. The third paper is by two Finnish authors, Outi Uusitalo and Jenni Niemelä-Nyrhinen, who explored the effects of different message themes on Finnish teenagers’ intention to smoke. They found that teenagers were susceptible to messages that are related to social approval of not smoking or disapproval of smoking, and argue that social appeals should be used in antismoking advertising targeted at them. All three of these deal with products that can have dysfunctional consequences or socially disruptive effects if consumed to excess, and there is an argument that marketing has a social responsibility to promote healthy lifestyles. Especially with young consumers.
Continuing on the theme of dysfunctional consumption, Yingjiao Xu brings us a paper on compulsive buying and how two parameters in particular, public self-consciousness and materialism, impact on compulsive buying in students. Materialism has a strong, significant and direct influence on young consumers’ compulsive buying tendency. Public self-consciousness, although strongly related to young consumers’ compulsive buying tendency, was mediated by materialism. This provides a link to the final paper by a regular contributor to Young Consumers, Kara Chan and co-author Fan Hu. Their hypothesis was that children who are described as having many toys are attributed different imagined personal characteristics by other children than those who are described as being without many toys. But which way? These children live in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) where the ideologies and beliefs of frugality and the common good co-exist with the capitalist virtues of money and success. Answers can be found in the paper.
I chose the papers in this issue deliberately as they reflected a theme in the consumption and young people literature where one is faced with social problems of consumption by young people. Materialism, over-consumption, health risks and consumption pathologies are the downside of consumption and we should not neglect them. Perhaps it is appropriate for this first issue of 2008 after the wilder excesses of the winter festivities to think about these matters.
There are two practitioner papers. Andrew Needham is the Founding Partner of Face Group (www.facegroup.co.uk) and has created Headbox a research and seeding community for 30,000 16-25 year olds that uses a social network platform. Using this technique Andrew has produced some fascinating insights into the ways word-of-mouth (WOM) works and how diffusion through communities spreads. A core concept is co-creation when marketing happens with young people rather than it being directed at them. This kind of buzz marketing suggests a new mindset toward marketing with greater emphasis on the active role of social communities in the youth market. We then take a look at South Africa in our global series on advertising to children. Kelly Thompson and Lindie Serrurier examine the current state of regulations and the regulatory framework operative in that country today. Martin Lindstrom’s regular executive insight concludes the issue.
Good reading and I wish you all the best in 2008.
Dr Brian Young Editor