Marketing to Kids as a Parenting Tool

by Melanie Edwards on November 3, 2010 · 14 comments

in Parenting

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It's fun-tastic! Sample Ad for Kids

It’s widely known that marketing works on kids. We always talk about how the latest toy commercial really makes an impact on our kids and they then go around asking for said toy. Or how seeing an ad on the street causes them to ask you about the product on the ad.

But, have you ever tried to use marketing as a parenting tool? Think about it. If advertisements and marketing campaigns work on our kids, why not use that to our advantage? Let me give you some examples that have actually happened in our house.

1) My baby girl says she doesn’t know what to do on a relaxing Saturday afternoon. She has tons of toys, books, and the like that she can use to entertain herself, but at the moment seems to have forgotten about them. She even has a play room that she could easily spend hours in, if she only gave it a chance. I say “Go play in the play room,” and she just says, “I don’t know what to play with!” The next time this happens, I instead say “Why don’t you explore your play room and see what you find?” Explore? Well now I’ve just added a challenge and mystical appeal to it! She runs to the room and ends up playing by herself for a while.

Play with words. Make things sound mysterious, magical, and appealing.

2) I want baby girl to try to drink some coconut water, something I grew up drinking, but that’s not so popular in this culture she’s growing up in. I tell her, “Guess what? Mami used to drink this when she was little!” I go on and tell her a story about how we would grab cocos from the palm trees in Puerto Rico, refrigerate them, cut them open once cold, and then stick a straw in them to drink the water. I tell her that daddy did the same in Trinidad as a little boy. And, I tell her that now someone just stuck the water from the coco into a can, but it’s the same.

Hearing this fun story from when mami and daddy were little makes her interested. If we had all that fun drinking agua de coco when we were young, she can’t be left out! So she tries it…and loves it! Plus, she feels like she connected to our youth and is doing “the same” as us.

3) I have a media event to attend, followed by 3 days at a blogging conference. Luckily, my baby girl and husband are coming with, though not actually attending the events and conference. Knowing that we’ll be spending the next 4-5 nights in 3 different hotels, we want to avoid the fact that she’s being thrown off her routine from affecting her mood. So, before we even leave the house, we say to her, “We’re going on an adventure! It’s going to be so much fun and we get to stay in 3 different hotels!!! Isn’t that exciting?” We continue to tell her how one hotel has animals to see, and the other is by the beach. And we ask her, “What do you think the bed will be like? Do you think it’ll have big, fluffy pillows?”

The idea is to get her so excited about our “adventure” that she starts to wonder about it herself and ask questions. She starts to imagine what it will be like and in turn begins to look forward to it. We even tell her, “You and daddy are going to have so much fun while mami is working and learning!” That way, she doesn’t even care that I won’t really be around since I’m attending a conference. Of course, daddy has to deliver and make the trip fun!

It’s all about how you package and “sell” what you’re saying. It’s in the presentation. Just like we are attracted to certain product packaging, food presentation, and concepts in the advertising we see. Much the same, we as parents can use that to our benefit and “sell” concepts to our kids and present them with new ideas.

Marketing to our kids. Try it and see if you can’t get your child excited based on your presentation. If it works for advertisers, it can work for you.

Can you think of a situation where you can “sell” your kids on an idea with some creative marketing?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica Rosenberg November 3, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I love this. I’m a marketer by profession and natural inclination so I always “sell” stuff to my kids… works with the husbands too. 😉 It’s all in how you present and package things!


modernmami November 3, 2010 at 4:49 pm

You’re right! It *does* work with the husbands too. My mother taught me
that…which means she was using marketing techniques 30 years ago and
didn’t know it!


Monica November 4, 2010 at 2:36 am

I totally agree with this!! My kids love it when my mother comes to visit and tells them stories about me when I was a kid. Then after she leaves, they beg me to tell the same stories over again. You’re right that it’s all in the presentation….and I think that applies to adults, too!
Great post, Melanie!


modernmami November 4, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Yes, presentation makes all the difference. I think many of us already do
this without realizing it.


Latinaish November 7, 2010 at 9:47 pm

You are GOOD, Melanie. LOL. I used to be very good at this but the kids are older now and a little more savvy 😉

Jessica is very right about it working on husbands, too. A couple days ago It “marketed” the idea of me attending Blogalicious next year to my husband and some how the conversation ended in him saying, “Sounds like a good idea.” … Dang! I still have it. lol


Divina and Eddy November 9, 2010 at 3:09 am

Great parenting! I think it won’t work on 2 year old yet but I have to remember it for the future when it gets a little bigger.


modernmami November 16, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Don’t underestimate it! I was “selling” my daughter on things as young as 2. 🙂


Lisa Renata November 10, 2010 at 3:29 am

So true. My mother calls it “coco wash” seriously, while I was growing up she was really good at it and now I seem to have acquired here skills. lol


modernmami November 10, 2010 at 3:28 pm

haha! Love how we acquire certain skills from our parents. I’ve never heard
it called coco wash, but that’s cute!


Raul Colon November 15, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Very useful advice in the years to come. I guess most of the time parents just want kids to do things because they expect them to execute on command. Other give too much explanation but don’t really entice them into what they want the kid to do.

The one I enjoyed the most was about connecting. I always try to connect with people and find a common interest. So why not try it with your kids to get them something different as your example of giving her coconut water.

Great Topic Marketing for Kids


modernmami November 16, 2010 at 9:18 pm

That is how we were raised! Just do what you’re told and don’t ask questions. Yes, connecting with a personal story can do wonders for kids.


Raul Colon November 16, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Exactly… also keeping a happy medium since some parents also over explain things…

I think there are moments to entices and others that will come to the point where you tell them that is how it is because mommy and daddy make the ultimate call.


modernmami November 16, 2010 at 9:26 pm

You’re completely right. We’ve already had to do that, because as you said,
you don’t want to over explain everything.


Varotica December 19, 2010 at 12:25 am

I just now realised that I used the marketing-strategy on my son a year ago … I had to send about 20 applications to places in the area and wanted to deliver them myself as this would be cheaper than the stamps. I had to take my 5 years old boy (just turned 5) and I knew this could be boring. I told him we would go on an adventure playing make-believe – “playing a postman”. He so loved the idea and even after a year remembers it and asks if we can do it again. Packaging something can really make a difference. Thanks for pointing it out to me 🙂


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