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Even three-year-olds can recognize commercial brands.

Think your average preschooler doesn’t know the difference between McDonald’s and Burger King? Think again.

In a pair of studies, Anna McAlister, a lecturer in the School of Human Ecology, found children as young as three recognize and have judgments about different brands — and the people who use them — especially ones aimed at their age group.

Researchers previously thought kids didn’t develop an understanding of brands until they were between seven and eleven years old, but earlier studies had some flaws, including asking those who had not yet learned to read to name their favorite brands.

McAlister worked with T. Bettina Cornwell, professor of marketing and sports management at the University of Michigan, to test brands geared toward young children and used pictures to help them communicate their understanding of brands. Young children recognized brands aimed at kids 50 percent of the time, compared with just above 20 percent recognition for brands not specifically targeted at their age group.

 

Published in the Winter 2010 issue

Tags: Children, Faculty, Research, Social sciences

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