Is Television advertising the right channel to promote targeting children in rural China?

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.....................................................................2 Introduction....................................................................................................................................................3 Television and Chinese Children........................................................................6 Discussion and Analysis....................................5 Methodology..........Contents Contents.................................................................................................................................4 Media and children’s consumer socialization..........................11 Appendix 1....................................................................................9 References.......................8 Limitations and Conclusion...............................................16 2 .......3 Hypothesis...................................................................................5 Findings.........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................3 Literature Review...................................................................................................13 Appendix 2..............3 Importance of Chinese Children Market..............4 Challenges to Television advertisements in rural China.............................................................................................................................................................................................................

since they have their own 3 . the perception of television advertisements amongst the children in rural China. 2008) Hence the majority of the children in modern China live in rural areas. The children have enormous market potential. adopted a Single-Child Policy in 1979 and it is the current rule in urban China (Zhang and Yang. In the year 2006. 1997). It reflects the government’s goal of relying more on domestic consumption in maintaining stable economic growth. Knowledge about children’s perceptions of advertising and brands are important to marketers and policy markers. 2008) Hence there is a need for research in this area. (Chan. Most of the research literature on advertising and children is based on research conducted in Western societies. Hence in the following sections of the paper I would be looking into aspects which justify the following hypothesis: Television advertising is the best choice for communication to reach out to rural Chinese children Literature Review Importance of Chinese Children Market China.Introduction China is the third-largest advertising market in the world. and there are very few comparable studies about China. there were 262 million children under age 15 in China with approximately 40 percent urban and 60 percent rural. These only children have a substantial amount of their own money to spend and exert a great influence on their household spending (McNeal and Yeh. after only the USA and Japan. Hypothesis There are two areas when we want to study the effectiveness of television advertising to communicate amongst the children in rural China. the country with the largest population of children in the world. (Chan. Therefore there is a need for studying the influence of television advertising in their lives and the following paper would look into whether television advertising is the right communication tool to reach to the masses of rural children in China. 1992). 2008) This makes my investigation into the lucrative rural children market a critical area to look at for advertisers. (Chan. firstly the availability and reach of the television as a medium for communication and secondly. Recently. China has been shifting the focus of its proactive fiscal policy from stimulating investment to strengthening low-income earners’ purchasing power.

schools. more than 1. Television has become the major medium in China. most of them based in small cities with limited audiences. 4 .800 radio stations. Regional variations are found in China and different dialects are spoken in different regions.000 magazines. and the retail outlets where they can be bought is called consumer socialization (Ward.money to spend. China has more than 3. The extent to which the consumer socialisation is affected by television advertisement is a major factor to justify my hypothesis. but also from other socialization agents. This is of utmost importance in studying any medium of communication.000 newspapers. and Guangzhou. some 7. Media and children’s consumer socialization The process of learning about products. (Chan & McNeal. China’s enormous population and growth in consumer demand are resulting in several new market segments with distinctive profiles including its children (Schmitt. 1999). There are also 1. and numerous internet portals (Simons. 1997). media. Two most important reasons to study media usage of children in rural China are: First. 1974). in this case the television. peers. 2003). but may not in some provinces (Simons. the use of the terms ‘‘the best’’ or ‘‘No. 2004). Media’s influence on children is mainly due to two dimensions – advertising and editorial/programming content (O’Guinn & Shrum 1997) – with advertising specifically intended to inform young consumers about products and encourage their purchase. Beijing.1 billion in 2003. Theory says that children learn consumer behaviour patterns from parents first and foremost. owing to the social and economic reforms are leading to a rapid increase in household incomes and demand for products and services in China (Batra. stores.000 channels and hundreds of markets.5%. their brands. namely. with regulations varying according to region. Advertising media have probably received more attention in the research literature than any other consumer socialization agent (Moschis. 1997). and the products themselves and their packages (Moschis 1987). and they have all of their purchases ahead of them (McNeal and Yeh. 1987). All advertisements also have to deal with state censors and have to be approved by the official China Advertising Association. For instance. Second. Television and Chinese Children The fast development of television broadcasting has been most notable. The household penetration rate for television in 2002 was 99. Television audience reached 1. They also determine perhaps 67 percent of their parents’ spending. 2003). 1’’ is allowed in advertising in Shanghai.

on the computer. the more consumer socialization takes place (Moschis & Churchill 1978). the cost of a television commercial is still expensive for many advertisers (Yanlin. but still constitute only a small portion of the money spent by advertisers to reach children. It is not easy to attract consumers in China. That is. 2004) especially in a big country like China. In the rural areas the choice is less. and Shanghai. the more that children interact with the mass media. 2004). the amount of interaction with the media appears to be positively related to learning consumer behaviour. some of which are highlighted below: • Although television is the best platform to reach a large amount of people in the fastest way. on the bus. there was always a choice between using global or local appeal in advertising for multinationals. For the purpose of this academic work we would take into account the rural statistics and sample. Shoppers in China are also spoiled for choice. Finally. in the child’s room. In the past. at school. As it is completely based on secondary data and therefore has a lot of limitations which are highlighted below and this paper only provides a broad overview on the way to justify the selected hypothesis. Advertisements from Western marketers that target children are beginning to appear. in the car. Methodology My research in this paper is based on data collected through surveys and other means by other researchers in the past for academic works related to mass media in rural and urban children of China. Guangzhou. where in most consumer categories they have at least 20 brands to choose from. Challenges to Television advertisements in rural China However there are some strong challenges to advertising over the television.Another factor that makes media important as influencers is their ubiquity. Details of the data used are provided in the Appendices. They are everywhere – in the home. foreign brands are losing their appeal as Chinese brands become more attractive • • • (Zhou and Belk. 5 . on the way to school. especially in the first-tier cities of Beijing. However in recent times.

2000). Nearly all children reported that they watched television in the past month. with little illustrations and pictures. and those to children in around 88 percent of cases. we expect. 2006) In the research conducted by K. video games. (Chan & McNeal.Findings In a survey conducted by Chan & McNeal in 2003. [Refer to Appendix 2. as it was found in this study. The finding was consistent with a previous study that rural children reported a higher attention to television commercials than urban children (Chan and 6 . There is usually a 15second commercial before and after each radio program and each television program that targets children. present messages about foods and beverages. Secondly. while the remainder consists of messages about school supplies. Advertisements tend to be more prevalent in broadcast media. [Refer to Appendix 1. Table 1] Contrasting previous views that indicated urban children found commercial sources more useful and credible than rural children in obtaining information about new products and services (Chan and McNeal. showed that television played a central part in the rural Chinese families. The percentages of children with television set at home for the urban and rural samples were almost the same: 96 percent and 98 percent respectively. the distribution network of print media in rural areas was poor. exposure and usage than rural children. These ads are directed at parents and children. rural respondents were more likely to perceive television commercials to be truthful than urban respondents. So. that rural children paid more attention to television advertising than urban children [Refer to Appendix 1. Chan and McNeal (2006) also justified in an earlier research. 2006) Even families in remote parts of China experience television advertising as a new form of cultural authority in instilling the idea that consumption leads to a happy childhood (Jing. However. rural children liked television commercials more than urban children. Table 2] A brief survey of existing children’s newspapers and magazines in China showed that most of the children’s print media was loaded with words and long stories. such as Wahaha. and toiletries such as Little White Rabbit toothpaste (McNeal & Ji 1999). Chan and McNeal (2006) studied media ownership and usage among Chinese children and found that urban children enjoyed higher media ownership. 97 percent had television sets at home. a Chinese soft drink. [Refer to Appendix 1. The difference lied in the ownership of other forms of media. television was a popular form of media and of all the respondents surveyed.Chan (2008). younger children are unlikely to find them interesting. 2007). Television ownership reached nearly 100 percent while the penetration of all other broadcast media was less than 50 percent. Table 1 and Figure 1] Television exposure was higher among rural children than among urban children. (Chan & McNeal. Table 2] Since rural children were more likely to find television commercial truthful.

Boys were more visual while girls were more verbal. more talkative formats (Greenberg et al. [Refer to Appendix 2. Rural respondents were more likely to use their personal experience as a basis of making the judgment than urban respondents. 2006a. while girls preferred softer. 2008) This could also be partially credited to rural children spending more time watching television as found out earlier in a survey by Chan and McNeal (2006). [Refer to Appendix 1.McNeal. (Cui and Liu. For the tested product categories in the survey conducted by Chan in 2006 . This was demonstrated by the difference in time spent on broadcast and print media. Table 5] This supports the study by Chan and McNeal in 2006. large-scale stores and stores with quality customer services. Urban consumers are more likely to shop at well-known. Rural consumers are less productinnovative. [Refer to Appendix 2. Rural boys and girls had similar access to media but they had quite different media preferences. Table 1] (Chan. Table 5] 7 . [Refer to Appendix 1. [Refer to Appendix 2. Table 4] Older children were less likely to perceive television commercials truthful than younger children in both the urban as well as the rural samples.soft drinks and computers it was established. brand recalls. Television was the only medium that had no gender or age differences in media exposure. This may be related with children’s improved literacy and ability to process information with age. The current study suggests that television advertising is particularly influential in the life of rural Chinese children. This is probably because other forms of advertising were not prevalent in rural China. which suggested older children had higher exposure to media and also spent more time on media than younger children. Another important result in the same study was that a higher proportion of rural children reported they liked or liked very much television advertising than urban children. b). [Refer to Appendix 1. 2008) Another survey found that adult urban and rural consumers differ significantly in their attitudes toward the entire marketing mix including product price. Table 3] urban respondents were more likely to use brand equity as a basis of making the judgment than rural respondents. shopping patterns. Rural respondents were also more likely to see if the product is endorsed by trustworthy persons as a basis of judgment than urban respondents. less brand-conscious. 1991). (Chan. and more price-conscious. Table 4] The survey also showed. 2004). 2000). and attitudes toward mass media advertising (Sun and Wu. [Refer to Appendix 2. rural children were more likely to perceive that the advertised brand is better than urban children. Another important result obtained from the survey by Chan and McNeal (2006) younger rural children reported that they always watched television commercials while older children only watched them sometimes. Table 2] The results was consistent with previous results among urban Chinese children that boys preferred active and exciting media content.

Discussion and Analysis Chan and McNeal also showed rural children have slightly higher household ownership of television. higher past month television exposure and spend a longer time viewing television than urban dwellers. older rural children gave more attention to radio as well as print advertisements. and computers and print media. Table 3] This could be an interesting conclusion from the survey and western advertisers could use strong brand endorsers to promote their products through television advertisements. So. I can infer it is a positive indication that television would be an excellent medium to communicate ideas and brands into the perceived less. Table 2] From the above findings which suggest that rural children find television advertisements to be more truthful and like television advertisements [Refer to Appendix 2. (Chan & McNeal. A consequence of poor education in rural China is that rural children may not be able to access and process information in an active way. The reasons for such an opposite trend in attention to television and other forms of advertising with age is yet to be established. [Refer to Appendix 1. television is certainly an essential socializing agent among rural as well as urban children in China. electronic games. 2007). As rural children are more likely to use personal experience to decide whether a television commercial is truthful. [Refer to Appendix 1. These point-of-purchase materials should be incorporated in a prominent position in the television commercials. ( Chan. Research findings indicate that they rely more heavily on personal sources in obtaining market information (Chan and McNeal. This view supports the findings above and highlights an area where television advertising could improve and make inroads. Table 1 and Table 2]. Table 2] The gap was greater for the relatively new media such as videotapes.brand conscious rural children.The general decrease in attention to television advertising with age was similar to that reported for urban children (Chan & McNeal 2002). [Refer to Appendix 2. 2006) Owing to this I believe that urban children were more likely to use brand equity as a basis of making the judgment where rural children were more likely to use their personal experience and look for endorsements by trustworthy person. However. advertisers and marketers should encourage rural children to locate the product in the nearby retail facilities or try out the product. 2008) The result that rural children perceive that advertised brands are of superior quality is very supportive of our hypothesis and would allow brand advertisers to promote a 8 . Access to and media exposure of nearly all media among rural children was lower than that for their urban counterparts except for television.

Scholars advised that multi-national companies should take a regional market segmentation approach when expanding into inland regions in China (Cui and Liu. Limitations and Conclusion Although the surveys used in the above sections have been conducted a few years ago but they are still valid but would need a bit of updating and this is a limitation of this academic work. Testing new advertising or marketing communication components in the rural setting also has the advantage of a smaller budget. Therefore television advertisements can bridge this gap in communication by reaching through national television channels available throughout the region. younger rural children reported that they always watched television commercials while older children only watched them sometimes. 2000) Moreover. 9 .coveted superior brand image and help in product differentiation in terms of quality by advertising on television. and their knowledge of products. Table 5] The commercial content among print media that target children can generally be described as sparse (McNeal & Ji 1999). Health and social service marketers should definitely consider using television advertising to provide prompt information about health and social development issues to rural children in China. 2008) As John (1999) proposed a model characterizing the growth of consumer knowledge. most of the print media are of a local or regional nature. and advertising. Much evidence shows that as children grow cognitively and socially. as proved in a research earlier.[Refer to Appendix 2. Owing to China’s lack of a good national distribution system. consumption motives and values. there is growth in their parental influence strategies. Table 2. children’s perceptions of advertising and brands as attitudes toward brands and purchase intentions are positively correlated (Chan. 2006). owning to the more affordable advertising media costs. (Chan. brands. (Chan and McNeal. skills. Television advertisements also need to capitalise on the fact that rural children has less exposure to other forms of media as shown in Appendix 1. 1996). Table 4] Moreover. [Refer to Appendix 1. This is partially supported by the results above suggesting that older children were less likely to perceive television commercials truthful than younger children. Table 5] Therefore television seems to be a perfect choice of media to approach this large section of the rural children market. and values as children mature throughout childhood and adolescence. [Refer to Appendix 2.

But from the findings above. the rural children’s market is promising not only for its size.Difficulty of gathering data primarily owing to the size of the country and language barrier and lack of researches limited me from compiling a more comprehensive report. Hence our hypothesis is valid and true in this case. one could conclude that indeed. (Chan. but also for its stability and long-term business returns. It is not known if trust in brands is positively related with brand loyalty for rural Chinese children. If further study provides evidence for a positive link between trust in brands and brand loyalty. 2008) 10 . As rural children put more trust in brands than urban children. television is the best form of communication to reach rural Chinese children. marketers should consider exploring the underdeveloped rural children’s market.

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in Young Consumers. Hunan. was conducted in March 2003 to May 2004. Questionnaires were distributed through 16 elementary schools and local researchers were selected and trained to administer the data collection. Guangzhou. Vol. Nanjing and Shanghai. pp. This survey of 1.U. and Yunnan. 39-50. 3. 13 . McNeal in 2006 published as “How rural children in China consume media and advertising”.Appendix 1 The following survey data in the form of tables and graphs were taken from a research done by K. 7 No. and in the rural areas of the four provinces of Heilongjian.977 urban and rural children ages 6 to 13 was conducted in the four Chinese cities of Beijing. Chan and J. Hubei.

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49 percent were boys and 51 percent were girls. pp.559 questionnaires were distributed in the rural sample and 1. The sample was divided into two groups that were of similar size (age six to nine and age ten-15). Chisquare tests and independent sample t-tests were conducted to examine the urbanrural difference in perceptions of television advertising and brands. Of the respondents. Respondents were 6 to 14 years old.by Emerald Publications.0 percent.481 questionnaires were returned.3 years (SD ¼ 2.6 percent. 74–84. The mean age of the respondents was 10. in the Journal of Consumer Marketing 25/2. Chi-square tests were conducted to examine the age difference in advertising perceptions. The response rate was 99.0 years). The response rate was 95. Respondents were six to 15 years old. Of the respondents 51 percent were boys and 49 percent were girls.Appendix 2 The following survey data in the form of tables and graphs were taken from a research done by K. Altogether 1.758 questionnaires were returned.6 years (SD ¼ 1. The mean age of the respondents was 9. as well as the urban and rural sub-samples.765 questionnaires were distributed in the urban sample and 1. published as “Chinese children’s perceptions of advertising and brands: an urban rural comparison”. Descriptive statistics were compiled to give the perceptions of television advertising and brands of the overall sample. 16 . Chan in 2008.8 years). Altogether 1.

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