This blog entry serves to raise a question; Can marketing messages, delivered repeatedly over a long period affect the way our children make decision in the future? Studies into how we learn and make decisions suggest yes.
For example, there was a study done by Psychologist Carol Dweck (see below for link) on middle school students to determine the power of suggestions in the present moment over their future decision making. First, the students were divided into two test groups and given a test of medium to hard difficulty. The tests were identical for both test groups, but upon completion, group A was praised on their hard work, and group B was praised on how smart they were. The students were then offered a choice between two exams; one that was harder than the one just completed, and another that was similar to the one they had just completed. Interestingly, the students that were praised on their effort chose almost unanimously to take on the harder test, while those praised on their intelligence chose the easier path. This trend continued through a series of 3 more tests. The purpose of the study was to measure how we learn, but what I thought was curious about it was the affect that these two different feedbacks had on their subsequent decisions.
Science also says that we learn based on repetition, and make all of our decisions usingour past experiences. If this is the case, then marketing messages we hear repeatedly over time as children form a basic matrix on which we make our decisions as adults. As my colleague April mentioned in her blog on Branding Memories, Coca Cola continues to spend billions in advertising despite being the world´s number one brand, and while they don´t market directly to children, the experiences that we have as children with the Coca-Cola brand, and the messages we hear repeatedly about it from our friends and family members will have, from a behavioral science perspective, have an overwhelming effect on how we make decisions concerning oursoda consumption throughout our lives.