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The Nagging Effect: Corporations Manipulate Sales Through The Nagging Of Your Kids

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Richard O. Jones
As the holidays nears, the corporations' huddle in conspiracy to relieve us of our last measly few dollars. The feat will be more difficult this year because of the financial crisis. This year more than ever the corporation will turn up the volume of the "Nagging Effect." Studies show that children nagging spurs about a third of a family's trips to a fast-food restaurant, to buy children's clothing, toys, electronic gadgets, and certain videos but seldom, if ever, genuine academic material not infused with a game of some sort. The "Nagging Effect" works by the child nagging or whining until they get what they want.

Nagging falls into two categories. There is persistent nagging, the fall-on-the-floor kind, and there is importance nagging, where a kid can talk about the importance of getting a certain product. Either is a good first step. But alone they are not enough. Marketing strategists agree that getting kids to whine or throw a public tantrum is even better. Better yet is to give them a specific reason to ask for the product, for example; "everybody else has "one" and without "one" I'm a nobody."

Name something that you do not want your kids to have, and the chances there are marketing experts trying to entice your kids into wanting it such as unhealthy yummy treats in cereal boxes disguised as breakfast food, and junk food at kid targeted restaurants where your children are lured by clowns, large friendly rodents, toys in the bag, and amusement park fun. They're also selling you soft porn videos, profanity-laced gangsta rap, World Wrestling Federation toys, South Park, and so forth for your children through the nagging effect. The big challenge is: Teaching our children and ourselves to resist this commercial onslaught.

There's been a shift in the predominant way our society thinks of children. Not long ago we considered children vulnerable beings to be nurtured. However, today we increasingly see kids through an economic lens. In our business culture, children are viewed as an economic resource to be exploited, just like cotton, tobacco, or timber.

James U. McNeal, a professor of marketing at Texas A&M, is perhaps the foremost expert on selling to children. According to an article online by writer Gary Ruskin entitled, "Why They Whine: How Corporation Prey on Your Children," James U. McNeal is the elder statesman advocating this shift in our thinking from viewing children as trusting, impressionable humans to be protected to seeing children "as economic resources to be mined." His emotional response to this contrast isn't in the childs' best interest. McNeal sees the money in your kids, and helps corporations get access to it: "Children are the brightest star in the consumer constellation," he writes. 

McNeal divides the booming kiddie market into three parts. There¹s the "primary" market ­ the $24.4 billion each year that kids directly control and spend. There¹s the "influence" market, perhaps as high as $300 billion, the amount of parental spending that children can directly or indirectly influence. And there¹s the "future" market, which is the purchasing that children will do for the rest of their lives.

"Virtually every consumer-goods industry, from airlines to zinnia-seed sellers, targets kids as nagging agents and their parent's money is the prize," McNeal enthuses.

Children are taught early in life, through corporations and their parents' endorsement, that their good self-esteem is in the products that they own and this thinking must be stopped.

Email: richardojones1@verizon.net

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