Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to understand, from children's perspectives, the commercial marketing strategy of selling breakfast cereals with “insert toys” targeted at children.
Design/methodology/approach – The study is based on four focus group interviews conducted with 16 children (8-9 years of age) concerning 18 different breakfast cereal packages. The theoretical framework integrates childhood sociology, critical discourse analysis and talk-in-interaction. This theoretical and methodological combination is used to show how children, in local micro settings of talk, make use of the discourses that are available to them to produce and reproduce social and cultural values about marketing with “insert toys”.
Findings – The present findings suggest that, from children's perspectives, “insert toys” are constituted by cultural and social patterns extending far beyond the “insert toy” itself. For example, the analysis shows that it is not biological age that defines what and how consumption is understood.
Research limitations/implications – The focus group material provides understandings of marketing strategies and consumption practices from children's perspectives. When the children talk about children and adults, hybrid agents of the “child-adult”, the “adult-child” and the “childish child” are constructed. These hybrids contradict research that dichotomizes children and adults likewise children's understandings of consumption based on age stages. Accordingly, age is rationalized into an empirically investigated category rather than being used as a preset category set out to explain children's behaviours.
Originality/value – Analysis of the focus group interactions shows that the way the market and marketing as well as children and adults are talked about is crucial to understanding children's and parents' actions as consumers.
2009. Vol. 4, no 10, 297-313 p.