Among the biggest factors driving the new spending habits of children is connectivity. Not only is it simpler than ever to make purchases online, but social media’s influence on how children consumers make their choices is absolutely undeniable. We look at how and what children are buying online, and what responsibilities adults have around this.
21st Century Purchases
A school in Singapore joined the eCommerce world in a big way recently, with the introduction of a wearable band called a Smart Buddy. Parents can track and manage the purchases that their children make using the Smart Buddy online, and load money onto the bands so that purchases at school are smooth and cashless. The move towards a society without physical notes and coins is gathering momentum, and the youngsters of Singapore in particular are embracing the trend.
The serious boom in online purchases seen among the youth of Singapore, and thus broader society, is due in large part to easier technology. The smartphone boom is believed to be key, and consultancy firm Accenture says that 40% of younger people in Asia have made online purchases using their handsets. In addition to changing consumer behaviour patterns, the advertising opportunities that are possible today are different to what was available in the past.
Small businesses can use Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to reach many more people than they have been able to do in the past, and it’s paying off. Research conducted by TMI Strategy reveals that 62% of eCommerce consumers under the age of 30 take their buying cues from social media. Niche bloggers and Instagrammers have smaller followings but the potential to influence their loyal fans to buy what they endorse is greater.
ponsible Regulations for Young Purchasing Power
All in all, we’re in a society where social media is shaping the advertising we see in a huge way, and our children are especially affected. As seeing desirable goods and purchasing them online gets easier and smoother, what obligations do we have? Enjoyable as playing at an online casino is, we certainly wouldn’t want our children engaging in these activities before they are ready.
Children have also often managed to override current age restriction verifications; notably, in the United States, Facebook is dealing with a class-action lawsuit after allowing children to purchase Facebook Credits using their parents’ credit and debit cards without their permission. Sales of restricted products are very difficult to regulate online, but retailers do have a legal duty to do all in their power to set up an effective checking system.
Ineffective checks include relying on the customer to simply confirm their age, asking for nothing more than a buyer’s date of birth, and using e-payment services to confirm purchasers’ ages. Stronger methods include using online age verification software, in-store collection of goods and standard age verification techniques when products are delivered. In addition to these buying regulations, it is also important to enforce the current rules for endorsing products on social media, such as celebrities stating when they have been paid to do so, and possibly to re-evaluate regulations as they apply to minors. This is, of course, very difficult and as these rules are formulated, the fact that consumer behaviour was always going to be different in the 21st century should be remembered.