Barbie or Betty? : Pre-school children's preference for brands and evidence for gender-linked differences
Children in the United Kingdom watch more television and are exposed to more advertising than children in any other European country. This article investigates the extent to which preschool children (aged 4-5 years) prefer brands advertised on television. Seventy-five children were interviewed and given a choice task in which they had to select the product, from eight pairs each comprising a branded and nonbranded product, that children of their own age and gender preferred. Products included popular drinks, snacks, toys, breakfast cereals, and sportswear. Nonbranded control products were carefully selected as close perceptual matches for the branded advertised products. Yet, on 68% of occasions, children chose the branded, advertised product in preference to the nonbranded product. This preference was reliably higher for girls (78%) than boys (58%). Gender-linked differences are discussed in relation to socialization theory and to girls' greater verbal ability and emotional sensitivity.