There is nothing wrong for any firm to promote their product in such a way that it boosts sales. In fact this is precisely what any business should be doing. The very survival of any business depends on that.
So any firm that is not a non-for-profit organization will do its best to convince you to get their product whatever it is. Of course, competition forces any business to increase the quality of what they sell, keeping closely in mind the cost of any improvement.
All businesses have more or less results on one specific product and deceiving results on another, the goal is that all results should be balanced out, so the average is satisfactory for the survival and the growth of the firm.
All businesses follow these rules.
Including pharmaceutical industry, food industry, toy industry…
I have no particular training in marketing but I know that being a major factor in the success of a firm, huge amounts of money are dedicated to that.
Massive amounts are spent to understand and analyze what is the target for X and Z products in order to reach that target. The role of marketing is to convince the target that life sucks without X and Z.
Psychological studies are done regularly; doctors, pediatrician are consulted to find out how to reach best a certain target.
As it meets an increasing need of consumers for anything that will make their life better, safer and easier. We all happily participate in the process.
Emotion based marketing is by far the most efficient one, with fear as the leader.
Scare anybody and you grab his attention. Create a problem, scare anyone with that problem, and bring the solution, charging for it.
Heaven for any business is when people are dependent: give them something they will crave for and they will come back for more. Does that sound familiar? Botox, ladies, does that ring a bell
We, adults, have the possibility to look for information, to take some distance with the enticing message that is given to us repeatedly. We don’t necessarily use it but we have it.
The more powerful is a firm, the more effort we must make to read through their marketing messages. And when a message is based on fear, approved by government people who you suspect know what they are doing, it is extremely difficult to stay in charge.
Pharmaceutical industry is an impressive example of successful business practice highly questionable for the people they are supposed to serve.
In theory no business has any interest to harm its customers. So no business is willingly doing so… I hope!
The truth though is that our best interest is not necessarily in line with the success of any business.
We are grown enough and educated enough to discriminate the necessary from the unnecessary, the positive from the negative anything can make us feel. We have the power and the mind to resist pressure.
Our children don’t. Children believe what they are told. Their emotions are on the surface easily accessible. They are eager to learn, to have and to experience. They are like one big walking desire ready to accept anything that looks appealing.
All parents know that. The business world knows that. And guess what? It uses that information as much as it can.
Children, especially teenagers and late teenagers, are gold for marketing.
With the invasion of technology in our lives, how do we deal with that? How do we protect our children from being eaten raw on the altar of marketing.
I wish I had an answer. Ten years ago when the internet was not yet a major component of our lives, we could consider computers as dangerous things, and have children stay away from them. The truth is that technology is far from being evil: it has transformed our ability to stay connected, to get information and many more.
Who can live without the internet today? Who could live without a mobile phone?
Who would seriously consider today denying a child, who has a research project to do for school, the access to the internet? Who has the time to take that child to the library, search for an hour for information that may be outdated, when a google search would have given the same information in minutes?
Do children have the same need that we have for technology? Certainly not. We enjoy and use efficiently technology because we have some kind of sense of what it is to be without, and how easy it makes our lives.
Our children generation has no clue what it is to be without: technology is the norm for them. In fact they embrace it with eagerness.
The problem is that they are growing; they don’t have yet a sense of self and others, that would give them the necessary distance to choose.
When you combine good marketing and peer pressure you have the magical recipe… for the business, not for the children.
One of the daunting questions all parents have the minute a child is born, is: What can I do to prepare my child for a future where he will thrive?
Is giving into social pressure, letting our children go with the sea of temptations, some more detrimental than others, right? Is it right really?
My husband and I have had many debates over what to let our kids do or have. We are fortunate enough to have lived in very different places, and that allows us to put any social pressure and any peer pressure in perspective. Yet, it is so hard to be one of the few who resist to Xbox for example; it is so hard to be in a daily battle over screen time, when homework has to be done in part on computers.
Even thrown daily in this daunting battle because I feel deep inside that raising kids with video games gives a false sense of reality that they will pay dearly later, I am not sure I am not fighting a lost battle. I am no match with more and more enticing games that kids see at their friends’ homes, on TV, and in malls. I can’t be sitting next to them when they are at the computer to be sure they are not on Mind Craft instead of their Powerpoint presentation.
My soon-to-be a thirteen year old has a phone. My ten year old has an Itouch last version with internet access. How do I know for sure who they communicate with and what they watch?
Those who think that a thirteen year old does not need a phone, do not realize how we, the parents, need him or her to have a phone! It is the age where your child starts being more independent: he or she gets invited to outings, to gatherings where supervision is loosened. Every parent is very happy to be able to get in touch with that child very easily.
Should we refuse these gatherings and ostracize him or her from his or her peers?
Is that the best way to start the teenage phase? I don’t think so. We have all been through that stage where we would do what it takes to belong and comply.
The world has changed so quickly and so drastically for the past century that I believe that all generations have been puzzled and perplex with their off spring’s requirements reaching the teenage phase.
I seriously believe though that what we go through is worse: the world is far more dangerous than it has ever been for our children. Addictive substances are more readily available, hard to detect, and very cool. With technology the dangerous world has passed the front door of our homes and invaded every room.
We all know the terrible drama caused by cyber bullying. How do we protect our children from that? How do we make them understand that what they write on the internet now will be available to be read by whoever in the future whether they like it or not?
I am not the only one concerned by these points. It does not take much research to find rising concerns on the risks for our kids.
In the mean time though, marketing is working full speed. Facebook creates more and more games, services to hook our kids, intentionally closing their eyes on the fact that these kids do not have the age to be on Facebook.
When a mom tells me that her child is not allowed to have a Facebook account, I am amazed by that confidence. It is so easy now for any child to have an account without their parent knowing about it.
Have I raised enough fear to catch your attention? Unfortunately I have nothing to sell you as a solution. In fact I am desperately looking for one.
Asking any business to self control its sales is basically asking a business to willingly die. It is delusional.
What we can hope though is that the people behind any business have enough ethics to stop their business from the easy road of quick profits causing damages either long term or short term.
These people are like us: most of them have children too.
The problem is that the fear of loosing is rampant for anyone in the work force: loosing jobs, money, social benefits etc…
2008 crisis has increased this fear drastically. So it will take a huge amount of courage and energy to go against the business flow that is self-sustaining against the best interest of we, people.
Contrary to popular belief in election time, I don’t think more regulations are needed to straighten the path where common sense and ethics should be ruling. Being a trained lawyer, I know that business lawyers are paid to find the loopholes of any regulations that annoy their client. Big corporations all over the world are out of reach of national regulation; they are so powerful that they have armies of lawyers who help them escape the law within one country. So at the end who has to cope with the new regulation, the small businesses who don’t have the means to arbitrate national legal systems. Increasing legal regulations makes it more difficult for the layperson, it increases corruption and it does not solve the problem of over powerful corporations that run on a self-momentum regardless of human consequences.
I believe that only ethics, values for each and one of us, at an individual level, will make a difference.
If it takes to bring back in some religion to foster the good out of the bad, so be it. We are in such a moral crisis because the elite does not lead well anymore. To be frank it has never really led well, except for the first hundred years of the United States, and the ten or fifteen years following second world war in Europe.
Elite today is not only selfish and amoral, it is greedy, poorly educated and coward. Being French I can tell you that last time it was that bad in France, our king lost his head, and my country was thrown into turmoil with despicable exactions that still weigh on our subconscious mind today. Irresponsible elite leads to chaos.
“With great power comes great responsibility”, sentence said by his uncle to Spiderman in the first movie. I wish all those in power right now would take that at heart.
There are all kinds of power; each and one of us has some kind power and we should all, at our level, use our power with responsibility and care.
I keep repeating my children that we have a brain to use it and that we have a moral duty to foster and use the gifts we have been blessed to be given at birth. Ultimately we are all on a God given mission whether we believe in God or not. It takes a true disconnection with nature to believe in nothing, and I feel sad for those who do not believe in something greater than us.
If we succeed in teaching our children that what they do has a huge impact on other people’s lives from an early age, if we teach them that at the end of the day what matters is how they feel about what they have done that day, if we nurture the pride and the deep loving emotion one feels when doing the right thing, then and only then, things can change.
There is no reset button in life. We all know that we pay cash for our mistakes with no bail out. We all know that achieving takes time and effort, that perseverance is key in any success.
Life is not Disney Land, or a video game setting. Life is not virtual, it is real. We learn to deal with things daily out of our control. And this is what living is all about.
When we have lost the learning processes that allowed us to fail and bear the consequences that taught us a lesson when we were kids, what do we offer in exchange for our own children?
Kids want to please, please their parents in particular. Except for brushing teeth, I believe we still are some kind of role model.
That is the only leverage we have left, I am afraid. We still must protect our children. The question is how?