What Do 8-Year-Olds Want to Buy?

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Here’s a scary thought: A new poll by market research firm Harris Interactive is recommending that corporations ramp up their marketing to children as young as 8.

Harris researchers asked 8- to 24-year-olds to rate brands by “familiarity, quality, and purchase consideration.” The results for 18- to 24-year-olds was unsurprising: The top 3 most highly regarded brands were Google, Facebook, and iPod.

But then it got a tad creepy. Asking 13- to 17-year-olds what brands they like is certainly important, and the results contained only one real surprise: The top brand among this demographic isn’t Google (No. 2) or iPod (No. 3) but…Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Finally, in a move that’s sure to give parents pause, Harris researchers interviewed 8 to 12-year-olds. Here’s the complete list of their Top 10 favorite brands…

  1. Nintendo Wii
  2. Doritos
  3. Oreos
  4. M&Ms
  5. Disney Channel
  6. Nickelodeon
  7. Nintendo DS
  8. McDonald’s
  9. Toys “R” Us
  10. Cartoon Network

As Regina A. Corso, the Harris senior vice president for Youth and Education Research, points out, “At this stage, the brands that resonate the most with youth are mostly ones that involve food.”

And not healthy food, of course – you were expecting “broccoli” to make this list? But it’s interesting that the two entertainment companies with a reputation for providing quality children’s programming – Disney and Nickelodeon – eclipsed the the second-most popular video-game maker, the nation’s largest toy retailer, and a cartoon network. So there’s hope for us yet.

But Corso’s advice? Not hopeful.

“Today’s youth are not just tomorrow’s consumers; they are already consumers in their own right, with their own money to spend,” she says. “What companies need to remember is that if brand loyalty is built in these early years, that brand loyalty will remain for years to come.”

So look for even more commercials targeted at your kids.

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