business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that US food manufacturers are trying to circumvent moves to limit their advertising to children by "embedding their products in simple and enticing games for touch-screen phones and tablets. The new medium is far cheaper than Saturday morning TV commercials and could prove as effective.

"The mobile games demonstrate how new technology is changing U.S. commerce, drawing tighter bonds between marketers and young consumers."

The story goes on to say that "makers of snacks, sweet drinks and candy have long been under government and public pressure to limit advertising to minors on TV and the Web. They are now finding the unregulated medium of mobile devices an effective substitute to trigger demand and cinch brand loyalty.

"Young children can master the largely intuitive touch screens well before they read. A recent survey by research firm NPD Group found that 37% of 4- and 5-year-old Americans were using such mobile devices as a smartphone, tablet or iPod Touch, compared with less than a quarter of children that age who used a laptop computer."
KC's View:
The good news is that the story suggests that there is little appetite in Congress to regulate these kinds of games, so the specter of governmental interference does not seem to be there.

Though I might suggest that a certain amount of discretion might be intelligent here, just so government doesn't change its mind.

I also think that the information about how facile young people are with these technologies ought to be warning enough about the extent to which marketers need to be using technology-based solutions to achieve some level of relevance. As I've said before, this generation of consumers will have little or no allegiance to traditional shopping experiences, and total allegiance to their computers and smart phones. How do you think they are going to shop and get information?