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Clever marketing seduces youth

By From page A8 | December 08, 2012

I guess each generation has its thing. I remember some of those in my generation (certainly not me) getting up at midnight in the late 1980s to stand in line to buy the new Michael Jackson album.

In the 1970s, it was rock concerts that had young people camping out in front of arenas.

Only this generation would sleep outdoors just to be the first to buy a video game machine. Not only are these machines extremely overpriced, but manufacturers strategically place a limited number of them in retail stores to create a frenzy that creates an issue with supply and demand, which generates media attention.

The new Nintendo Wii U is $480, the Xbox 360 is $296, a Sony PlayStation 3 is $249. I only paid $400 for my first car, a 1969 Volkswagen bug. It’s not like they can’t make more PlayStation 3s to sell to as many people who are willing to stand in line to buy them. It’s the same marketing strategy the Nike Corporation uses that has young folks lined up every year at the local mall so they can be the first to step on campus wearing the new Jordan athletics shoes.

They create a sense of urgency and the “I-gotta-have-it-now” mentality that seems to be very effective with today’s gullible consumers.

The maker of the new Nintendo Wii U machine is also in the game after releasing its machine last month just before black  Friday.

I feel sorry for parents and holiday shoppers who are going to have to take out a second mortgage to buy gifts for their children this year. Most of the hot items that attract children are high-priced and high-tech: iPods, tablets, cellphones that play movies.

It’s getting out of control. You give a kid a simple action figure these days and he will look at you funny as to say, “What is this? It doesn’t talk or play music?” No, it doesn’t! You actually have to use you own imagination to enjoy it. Wouldn’t it be nice if children these days would appreciate simple low-tech gifts like we did when we were young?

Picture this: A bag of plastic army men, $1.99; multiple-pack of baseball trading cards (with a stale piece of gum), $1.50; Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, $5.25; a satisfied kid and money left for food . . . Priceless.

Maybe I’m just a damaged product of my own underprivileged upbringing. I rarely received a complete gift at once. I would get some handlebars and a seat for Christmas. I’d then get some tires for my birthday, then collect the extra parts. I didn’t have a whole bike until I was 19 and by that time most people that age were driving.

I understand that some parents just want to provide their children with a better lifestyle and things they could not afford when they were growing up. However, I believe there’s a lesson to be learned from today’s media-induced materialistic environment. We should teach our children to resist the urge to follow the desire of the eyes.

Maybe we shouldn’t allow them to have everything they want just because it’s popular and everyone else has it, whether the parents can afford it or not. If they can learn to resist those urges now, then maybe they will be better prepared to resist more harmful urges as an adult.

Deon Price is a freelance writer and youth life skills coach who lives in Fairfield. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/youthgeneration.

Deon Price


Discussion | 5 comments

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  • CD BrooksDecember 08, 2012 - 7:30 am

    Mr. Price, your bicycle story is very difficult to read and comprehend. I cannot imagine a child getting “gifts” in that fashion. The marketing for most popular items now is pure genius. I was very involved in the marketing process in my early years as an account manager in the beverage industry and the $ billions spent n that field is amazing. I can’t fault the companies that market their products, that is just good old fashion capitalism at work and the more effective the better. The real issue becomes the consumer and their desire to own the “product-of-the-day!” My concern comes in when the “adults” get in the act and decide they need an item and make it worth fighting for and inciting the general order. And those same “adults” that demand their child will have these items in the name of popularity or “what a good parent am I syndrome” if there is such a thing? I agree with your idea that we’d make better citizens out of our youth by not giving in to the demands placed upon us by brilliant marketing strategists. Both as consumers and more importantly as parents.

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  • JoshDecember 09, 2012 - 12:54 am

    Man loves marketing. Man hates effects of marketing. God bless America.

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  • Rich GiddensDecember 08, 2012 - 12:51 pm

    This is a joke, right Deon? You just voted to re-elect a fraud who uses the very same type of dishonest marketing along with every emotional appeal, platitudes and sophistry of reason known to man. You fell for that swindle despite the facts--its no wonder that kids follow your example!

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  • rlw895December 11, 2012 - 12:17 pm

    I suppose the focus on kids is they are more susceptible to marketing because of their lack naiveté. But in fact, marketing is so sophisticated these days, EVERYONE is susceptible, once we are in the cross hairs. All we can do is be conscious we are being marketed to, especially when we are relying on commercial electronic media for our information, and act accordingly.

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  • rlw895December 11, 2012 - 12:19 pm

    I meant to say "...lack of experience and naivite..."

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