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Children & Marketing Group

In recent years, the scope and scale of marketing to children has substantially increased (Common Sense Media 2014), and consumer researchers throughout the world have noted increasing commercial pressures on children (Bailey Report 2011, Valkenburg 2000, Oates, Watkins and Tyne 2016). Children are increasingly targeted from a wide number of sources, from television advertising, to merchandising, to advergames, to sponsored events and in-school marketing. The children and marketing group is interested in the direct implications of these influences on children, and the challenges they present to childhood, as well as the question of the impact on society of the underlying values that such socialization promotes.

One of the major considerations for marketers today is the need to examine their own practices when marketing to child audiences. Our knowledge of children’s inherent limitations in understanding advertising and their unique susceptibility to commercial persuasion has been well established in prior academic work (Rozendaal, Buijzen and Valkenburg 2011, Gunter, Oates and Blades 2005), however, there is little work on understanding the impact of new forms of media and marketing on children’s well-being (Clarke and Svanaes 2012, Nairn 2014). The advent of immersive, digital and online platforms, so attractive to children of all ages, makes this need ever more urgent.

The group’s research contributes to the academic literature on the range and effects on children of increased exposure to marketing in new and traditional media. The research is also intended to benefit NZ families, educators and policy makers by recommending standards of marketing and encouraging the development of media literacy skills for children in the rapidly changing media environment.


Robertson, K, Watkins, L, Thyne, M and Aitken, R (forthcoming 2017) 'Correlates of Parental Mediation of Pre-schooler’s Advertising Exposure.' Young Consumers YC-04-2016-00597.R1

Watkins, L., Aitken, R., Robertson, K. and Thyne, M. (2016) Public and Parental Perceptions of and Concerns with Advertising to Pre-School Children. International Journal of Consumer Studies 40:5 pp 592-600. DOI: 10.1111/ijcs.12304

Watkins, L., Aitken, R., Robertson, K.,Thyne, M and Williams, J. (2016) Advertising's Impact on Pre-Schoolers’ Brand Knowledge and Materialism International Journal of Consumer Studies 40: pp 583-591. DOI: 10.1111/ijcs.12303.

Aitken, R. and Watkins, L. (forthcoming 2017) ‘Harm or Good?’: Consumer Perceptions of Corporate Strategic Giving In Schools Journal of Consumer Affairs

Oates, C., Watkins, L & Thyne, M. (2016) “Editorial: The Impact of Marketing on Children’s Well-Being in a Digital Age” European Journal of Marketing Editorial Vol. 50 No. 11 pp. 1969 - 1974

Aitken, R & Watkins, L. (2016) “There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: The Cost of Marketing in Schools”. New Zealand Principal. Vol 31, No. 1, pp 29-32.

Watkins, L. Aitken, R., Signal, L., Smith M., & Gage, R. (2017). Documenting the Commercial World of New Zealand Children. Proceedings of the Macro Marketing Conference 2017

Watkins, L., Aitken, R., Thyne, M., & Robertson, K. (2016). "Developmental and Environmental Influences on Brand Symbolism in Early Childhood". Child and Teen Consumption Conference, Denmark 2016

Aitken, R., Watkins, L., Thyne, M and Robertson, K. (2016) “Socializing Children as Competent Consumers”. Child and Teen Consumption Conference, Denmark 2016

Research Group Members:

Associate Professor Rob Aitken

Associate Professor Maree Thyne

Dr Leah Watkins

Dr Kirsten Robertson