Pictured (left to right):
Jeff Bonnet, 18, US, has lived in Beijing for five years
Vivian Rhone, 14, US, has lived in Beijing for three years
Michael Ma, 16, China, has lived in Beijing for 13 years
Coco Ho, 15, Hong Kong, has lived in Beijing for six years
Advertising is an undeniably big business. Whether you’re waiting for an elevator or sitting in the back of a Beijing cab, there is an ad right in front of you, vying for your attention. American market research firm Yankelovich, estimates that a person living in a city sees up to 5,000 advertisements a day, compared to 2,000 ads 30 years ago. Over that period of time, buying power has shifted from adults to the ever growing tween (children aged between 9 and 12 years old) and teen markets. To find out what this young consumer market really thinks about advertising, we talked with students from Beanstalk International Bilingual School.
Are teenagers influenced by advertising and in what ways?
Coco: Yes. In video games, movies and TV shows.
Vivian: It depends on your judgment and how they’re advertising.
Does advertising influence which items you purchase?
Coco: For me, I usually look through a magazine first and check out this year’s trends. And then I go to shops and see if I can find similar trends. Other times, I see what my friends are wearing.
Jeff: I just go to the store and see what I like. For shampoo, I just pop the bottle open and smell it; see if I like it.
What are some of your favorite brands?
Vivian: Armani Exchange, Marc Jacobs, Hollister, Abercrombie and Fitch and Promod in Solana.
Coco: Juicy, Zara.
Jeff: Louis Vuitton.
Does media affect body image in teens?
Coco: [I read] Teen Vogue. [In Teen Vogue,] some of the models are our age. And there was this period [when I]wanted to be a model and I tried to keep fit. People told me that I was not fat, but I didn’t really listen and I kept trying to get skinner. And then I stopped. I’m me; why should I be something I’m not? Magazines can sometimes give you this false impression of things.
Jeff: The people you see in advertisements set up a superficial standard for people to admire.
Michael: You walk down the street and see someone and think, "He’s so cool. I want to be just like him."
Does the media have a positive or negative influence on teens?
Vivian: It really depends on how and what they’re advertising and the way that people see what they’re advertising.
Michael: Negative, because I don’t need to be like [the person in the ad].
Jeff: Negative, because it makes you want to buy things.
Are politics a factor when companies advertise to teens?
Jeff: Definitely. I know some people in the government get money from companies to help them advertise. They get a percentage. And I think that’s pretty much everywhere.
Vivian: People like making money.
Are you affected by online ads?
Coco: [I spend about] six hours a day [on the Internet]. I don’t really get influenced by advertising on the Internet. I just don’t like the way [the ads]pop up on my screen.
Vivian: I have a pop-up blocker.
Michael: Sometimes [on the Internet], there is an advertisement in Chinese before a video you want to watch. I just change to another window and wait for the ad to stop.
Are you affected by advertising in Chinese?
Vivian: It doesn’t occur to me to actually read the ads.
Jeff: I read them, but they’re just not interesting to me. Good, creative advertisements interest me. The ones in China are boring. The last really good one [I saw] was for a wallet. The ad was the new collection on the [Louis Vuitton] website, so I clicked on it and I bought the wallet.
Michael: If there are a lot of Chinese words, I would not read it. I just ignore them.
Do people trust products with brand names over generic ones?
Vivian: Most people buy things because of the brand, not because of the quality. Brand names really affect the way people look at things.
Jeff: They have a reputation with people, so that affects [a buyer’s]judgment.
Does advertising affect which brands become more popular and how?
Jeff: The better the advertisement, the more people will buy it. The more people that buy it, it makes the company sound better. Then, they get more money. It’s a chain.
Michael: Sometimes. When the product is actually good, people will want to buy it. If [the product]is bad, advertising will help but people will buy [the product]and find out that it’s not that good. It’s false advertising.
Coco: Everyone knows that if you eat McDonald’s every day, it’s bad for you. They advertise a lot, but people still eat there and they know it’s bad.
What is the most effective method of advertising to teens?
Jeff: Celebrities. If a celebrity is your idol and wears Nike, then you will buy Nike.
Vivian: Your peers.
Coco: I am personally attracted to advertisements that don’t tell you what they’re advertising at first.