Parental evaluation of popular brand names given as Christmas gifts and sources of information used in these decisions

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Clarke, P & McAuley, A 2010, 'Parental evaluation of popular brand names given as Christmas gifts and sources of information used in these decisions', Journal of Consumer Marketing, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 534-542.

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Purpose – Parents’ exposure to children’s brands appears rather limited; while brands sell at Christmas, there are extraordinary purchases of low-cost toys and stocking filler fun toys. Maybe, toy brand purchases satisfy the child’s request, rather than parents’ value or quality preferences. Generally, the theories of branding feature the positive functional, symbolic and emotional attributes. This paper aims to examines parental evaluation of popular brand names to be given as gifts at Christmas and the sources used to gather information about brands. Design/methodology/approach – Data were gathered via a survey of parents in the period prior to Christmas. The analysis consisted of a principal component analysis of the functional, symbolic and emotional evaluations. A frequency analysis and a gender-based crosstabs series identified gender variations in the evaluations and use of information sources. Findings – The study indicated that parents hold low evaluations of popular brands when buying Christmas gifts for their children. These low evaluations are across functional, symbolic and hedonic elements. Since mothers generally attend to the gift purchase decisions, there were significant gender differences on a few evaluations. The most popular source of information is asking children what they want and is closely followed by the use of store catalogues. Practical implications – The evaluation and purchase of toys and gifts predominate at Christmas. Having such a high level of product or brand choice in the children’s market could create confusion or uncertainty for parents. A negative image of children’s exposure to toy advertising and the resultant pester power may combine to cloud parents’ evaluations of giving brands as gifts. In essence, Christmas is the major chance for brand owners to sell their toys and other products. The idea of “. . . ask mom to get one . . . ” may be appropriate in high turnover, supermarket products, but not effective in a one-chance, Christmas gift situation. Originality/value – This research spans the value sets of two generations. Simply, the promotion of toys is primarily directed toward children who develop desires, expectations and values that are different from those values and attitudes of parents. Research into parental Christmas giving ascertains the value of children’s brands to parents.

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