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This study demonstrates links between mothers' interactions with children and general attitudes, values, and behaviors. It combines consumer socialization theory with psychographic and behavioral syndicated data and segments moms into six distinguishable and actionable clusters that explain information exchange, influence, and decision-making dynamics betweenmother and child in the marketplace. Examples are given of how knowledge of these cluster similarities and differences can be used by companies in their product and promotion strategies.
Consumer socialization is generally considered to be "the process by which young people acquire skills, knowledge, and attitudes relevant to their functioning as consumers in the marketplace" (Ward 1974, p. 2).Children learn to be consumers by observing persons around them in decision-making and purchasing situations, by modeling the behaviors they observe in others, and as recipients in parents' direct socialization instruction.
Interest in mothers as consumer socialization agents grew in the late 1970s and 1980s (Carlson and Grossbart 1988; Crosby and Grossbart 1984). Although family dynamics appear tobe changing, mothers are still thought to be stronger consumer socialization agents because they are traditionally involved more directly and more regularly with their children in caretaking, supervision, disciplinary interactions, and consumer situations. As a result, mothers are more likely to mediate their children's exposure to commercial messages than are fathers (Warren, Gerke, and Kelly2002).
Mothers influence their children's consumer socialization through direct instruction in consumer skills, indirect influence through modeling behavior, and providing consumer opportunities. Mothers influence and maintain control over children's consumer activities by serving as gatekeepers to information and influence and by controlling money available to the child (McNeal 1987; Moschis 1985;Reece 1982; Ward, Wackman, and Wartella 1977), often creating a "four-eyed, four-legged" consumer dynamic. Moore, Wilkie, and Lutz suggest that intergenerational influence is "an important source of brand equity for some, but not all brands, in today's marketplace ... that is deserving of further attention by the marketing community" (2002, p. 35).
This study examines the consumer interactionsbetween U.S. mothers and their kids, linking these interactions to mothers' more general attitudes, values, and behaviors. It combines consumer socialization theory with psychographic and behavioral syndicated data in order to segment the U.S. mom market into distinguishable and actionable clusters. The specific goal of this clustering is to provide added information to marketing professionals inunderstanding the complexities of information selection and exchange, power, and decision-making dynamics when a mother and child interact in the marketplace. An algorithm is presented that can be used by companies in targeting, product development, and promotion strategies.
Examination of the consumer socialization of children has most often taken the form of exploringdifferences in family communication styles and how these differences manifest in socialization interactions between parent and child.
The Role of Parenting Style in Children's Consumer Socialization
"The family context of interpersonal communication is believed to have the greatest influence in consumer socialization" (Moschis 1985, p. 898). Family communication patterns help children learn how tocope with situations they may encounter outside the home and away from parent intervention by establishing norms and expectations of values, attitudes, influences, and behaviors. Parents and children engage in communications with each other based on two relatively uncorrelated dimensions-socio and concept orientations (McLeod and Chaffee 1972). Sociooriented communication "produces deference,...
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