NEW YORK: For decades, the consumer-socialization process has relied heavily on parental influence, and a paper in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) aims to “offer renewed perspectives” on this subject.

Entitled, The Influence of Parental And Communication Style on Consumer Socialization: A Meta-Analysis Informs Marketing Strategy Considerations Involving Parent-Child Interventions, the paper stresses the importance of understanding the “processes by which young people acquire skills, knowledge, and attitudes relevant to their functioning as consumers in the marketplace”.

More specifically, authors Jessica Mikeska (Indiana State University), Chris L.S. Coryn and Robert L. Harrison III (Western Michigan University), and Les Carlson (University of Nebraska), assess existing literature on family communication patterns (FCP) and parental socialization (PS) to understand how parents engage in media-related consumer-socialization interactions with children.

“In addition to children constituting both an existing market and an expanding future market for goods and services, researchers have highlighted the importance of consumer-socialization processes to parents, marketers, policy makers, and educators to understand children’s development as consumers,” they argue.

This subject has never been more complicated, not least because children have access and exposure to a mixture of media unimagined even a decade ago.

And, the academics report, “mothers’ engagement in these processes can be related predictably to their own assessments of their participation in consumer socialization”.

Building on this theme, they suggest that “certain FCP–parental socialization style pairs initiated significantly greater control, co-viewing, and discussion of children’s media consumption” than others.

An “authoritative parental socialization style”, for instance, saw the highest level of involvement in consumer socialization, and socialization more broadly, due to efforts to develop a “warm and restrictive environment”.

Similarly, “consensual authoritative parents” sought greater control over children’s media consumption than “pluralistic-indulgent parents” and “laissez faire-neglecting parents”.

“If managers are contemplating segmenting on the basis of how parents interact with children in general and are considering using either the FCP or the PS-style approach,” the analysis ultimately advises, “then they may be faced with deciding which framework to choose as a basis for segmentation purposes”.

But, the authors further assert: “Because these frameworks essentially are equivalent, choosing between the two concomitantly is less of a problem.

“If, for example, the decision at least somewhat depends on resources available for developing the FCP or parental socialization style segments, then that selection can be driven by the framework that is easier to operationalize.”

Data sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC staff