Children and youth comprise a large consumer group. Business has a great opportunity to positively impact children’s wellbeing and development through their products, services and targeted marketing activities. At the same time, due to their vulnerability, inexperience and lack of ability to critically reflect on the received information, business should be especially diligent in protecting young consumers from harmful, potentially deceptive and offensive information. In fact, the Children’s Rights and Business Principle #6 states that “all business should ensure that products and services are safe, and seek to support children’s rights through them.”
However, how companies view children as consumers remains an area where too few companies recognize and treat children as a stakeholder group with specific interests and needs. Moreover, the results from the study indicate that this area is under the radar in most companies, with the average for the “Marketplace” area, i.e. impact from marketing and products, being significantly lower than the other areas covered.
Though some companies excel in reporting on policies and initiatives regarding responsible marketing and/or making sure that children are safe when coming in contact with their products or services, many still lag behind. This gap indicates that companies are failing to capitalize on significant untapped potential in a world where approximately 25% of the population is under 14.
By integrating a children’s rights perspective into their analysis, there are substantial benefits to companies, both in avoiding unintentional negative impacts and in unlocking customer goodwill and loyalty.