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.

Is this only in my country, or does it exist in your country as well?

17 thoughts on “Supermarkets are manipulating our children

  1. We had those too in the Netherlands, where we got free ‘grocery mini’s’ and could buy a small shop with those. Now I think of it, my mother already got those ‘mini’s’ (although they might’ve been called differently) when I was a wee kid.

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  2. We encounter and have similar situations here. Just about every major brand has mass-marketed and targeted children, often through advertising. We are SUPPOSED to have a government type “watch-dog” that is on the look-out for such advertising and marketing ….. but, sadly, in the end …. money talks, b.s. walks …. unfortunately all over the children and of consequence, the parents.

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  3. That’s quite a bit of marketing there. I have never seen such a realistic kit before. Here in the States I think kids are mostly addicted to Playstation, X-Box kind of games. We seem to be working toward having kids isolated and doing everything online. Thanks for a great article.

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    • True words. having a playstation etc. or even ipad is not so bad. The kids can choose what they want to look at and are not infiltrated with suggestions on what to buy when they become adults.

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  4. This is something I’ve often thought about and which I personally hate. I hate this trend there’s everywhere to turn children into adults as soon as possible. Parents buy their toddlers tablets and/or “children computers” so they can start pressing buttons and using applications even before they know how to speak or to write by hand. There are so many new attraction parks where people can take their kids and leave them there the whole day, so they can pretend to be adults and shop at the mall and go to work and whatever… Just a few months ago, I first heard of this thing, called Kidzania (http://www.kidzania.cl/, which seems to be the Chilean version of this: http://www.kidzania.com/), that arrived at my country and that’s become the new “hot spot” for rich and not-so-rich kids. My mom’s seen all of her co-workers even save money specially so they could take their children there during the winter break, because it was “ideal”: they get to play to be adults all they long and parents get to be free of their children during a whole day, so they can focus on themselves, because it seems it’s such a nuisance when your kids are out of school and, God forbid, they must spend all of their time at home. @_@

    I really don’t get it. I’m a 32 years old woman and I *have* to deal with work and responsibilities. I never wanted to, I was one of those children who never want to grow up, and I have, to this day, a huge “Peter Pan complex” or whatever. I’m a child at heart, I hate being an adult and I always hated to grow up. I know I’m in the opposite extreme of this current trend, but, even from a more objective point of view (like, for instance, my mom’s, who’s an accomplished adult without a problem with growing up or anything, who works, supports a family and has done so for decades), I think this is quite idiotic. I mean… We are children for just a few years, and then we have the whole rest of our lives (hopefully, several decades) to be adults, to go to work or to go shopping everyday, because, like you say, if you don’t go to the supermarket, there may be no food at home, and if you don’t work, you won’t have money to live. It’s not something you do for fun, but because you have to. Yet, nowadays, parents seem to love the idea of making their children grow as fast as possible, as if they could get rid of the responsibilities of parenthood faster too. ¬¬ And, since there’s always someone willing to exploit those wishes, there are things like that “mini supermarket” for kids or this place Kidzania, where you can pretend to be an adult and work all day, woohoo… u_uU

    You said it: “Why cannot we let our children be children. The hard realities of life arrive soon enough.”

    That’s the pure truth and I don’t know why parents can’t seem to grasp that nowadays. -_-

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    • It seems to be the modern way of life. sometimes I am glad that my kids are already grown up. No grandchildren, but I dread to think how it will be when they perhaps one day arrive. I have never seen anything like Kidzania here, but i hope I never see it.

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  5. I think you have a very valid point, I also think that you could extend on it. The impact of buying from a supermarket, both on the local economy and the environment is HUGE. We should be encouraging our children to grow their own food and buy local produce or like you say, just let them be children and not think about grown up stuff until they have to or unless they want to. As for the supermarket labels, that’s conditioning and I’m dead against it! That’s the supermarket cashing in on children.

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    • Good ideas, but the facilities for growing your own are not available to all and buying local produce in Switzerland is a price question. We have a twice a week market with fresh produce from the farms, but much more expensive than in the shops.

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      • Understood, I don’t live there so I don’t know. What we are looking into right now is how to be sustainable in an average environment and looking into how people in cities can do the same. It’s not for everyone, I admit but I think it’s a better way to go. We have groups in our area which are obtaining land for communities to grow in. I think it’s unfortunate that more people can’t have a choice and on seeing what you have said it makes me realise that we are quite lucky to have what we do nearby. I wonder actually if your supermarkets would be of the same kind at the UK. I generally shop at Lidl as they use a lot of produce from the UK. I go to markets when I can. Some of our supermarkets aren’t that ethical, would you say yours are? Sorry, I’m on big on eco and your blog resonated with me in the influences that something as simple as a childs toy can have.

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