Monday, 9 September 2013

Supermarkets are manipulating our children

Migros Children's shop

Something is wrong here; it is gnawing at me, slightly disturbing. This box is for children, for their mothers to buy. It is not over expensive, normally priced. The contents are OK, a mini shop for the children to play a pretend game with each other, just like the grown-ups, only this is too much like the grown-ups, too realistic. You can buy the mini ingredients to be sold in a special cardboard case. All products from our local supermarket, mini packets, all nicely labelled with the names containing small amounts of the food, the items that mummy buys every day in the supermarket.

The box is in German/French/Italian – our country’s languages. I will translate “Buy like the grown-ups” and at the bottom stands “mini supermarket”.

Is it correct to indoctrinate our children at school age with buying the right products in the right shops? There is an accompaniment to this new idea. As mummy arrives at the cash desk, she is asked by the saleslady “Do you want the sticky pictures for the album?” Yes, there is an album (free) where you can stick pictures of the products your child is selling at home in the game. I was also asked today, but I refused and if I had four children all at school age, I would have refused. I am sure there would have been a rebellion “But mummy everyone I know has one and a mini shop as well. I want one too”.

I like children, I have two myself, but they are now out of the child manipulation age thank goodness.

For some time now the supermarket trolleys are available in a mini version, for children of course. Those parents that encourage their children to push their own trolley and collect the goods that mummy wants to buy are convinced they are doing the right thing. There are also parents that do it, because otherwise they will have a crying, moaning child on their hands that has a Freudian nightmare because it cannot do what mummy does – spend money on food.

I am not talking about the annoyance I have when I trip over a mini trolley or have to push my way through a meeting of mothers with children and five mini trolleys to arrive at the cash desk, this is not important. The parents are doing the right thing, so they think

I shop 2-3 times a week, not really because I want to, but because I have to, otherwise the shelves and refridgerator in the kitchen would quickly be empty. Do we really have to force our children, let our children, do what mummy has to do soon enough. Why cannot we let our children be children. The hard realities of life arrive soon enough.

On the other hand the supermarket chiefs have found a new opening for marketing their products. Educate the children in choosing our products when they are children, and we have our future clientele when they are adults; all part of modern life I suppose. 


  1. TV advertising has been manipulating children for years, this just seems to be a different way of doing it.

  2. This seems like rather a pernicious twist on marketing if I understand it correctly. It seems like they are keeping track (or trying to) of your buying habits through your children through their album and sticky pictures.

  3. I have to agree with you, Pat, though I do remember when twins were small buying a little cash register, was it Fisher Price and tiny boxes of make believe foods, tins and cereals. As it was an American product, only really Kellogg made sense to me, but they played happily with it for a few days until novelty wore off or the box's or money got lost, forget which.

    As Mitch so correctly points out, Television has made shoppers out of children for years, just stand at the tills when mothers come with little ones after work and listen to what they beg for. The colourful cereals, the gaudy papers chocolate, the brand names, everything you see in the adverts every day.

    Marketing and very clever marketing, for sure Benni. They can this way keep track of what mother buys what is popular and what is not.

    I started when the children were small not taking them to the shops. It was a rule, a rule I stuck to, as I simply myself could not bear to see tired crying snotty nosed kids being hauled around a shop, when they should be out playing or sleeping. My pet hate is shopping of any kind. I am a planner and my husband simply takes the list once at the most twice a week, sometimes if the housekeeper has forgotten something I send the driver to the local store, very seldom do I go shopping myself.