It is no secret that marketing departments now target teenagers, since teens have spending power and will become adult consumers in the future. This targeted advertising first appeared during the 1980s, according to the American Psychological Association, and American companies now allocate more than $15 billion toward youth marketing. Since youths view more than 40,000 advertisements per year, parents should gain awareness of how this marketing can influence their children.
Tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical companies have massive advertising budgets and allot large amounts of this money marketing towards teens. "Pediatrics," a medical journal, reports that about 33 percent of all teen smoking is linked to advertising. Teens also view roughly 2,000 alcohol advertisements per year, which makes them more likely to try alcohol during their formative years. An additional 92 percent of individuals who request a specific prescription drug from a doctor do so because they saw an advertisement. These ads depict cigarettes, alcohol and prescription drugs in a positive and glamorous way, which makes them more desirable to teens. Sexuality in advertising also has an influence on teen behavior, as exposure to this content could increase the chances of teens having sex at a young age as they emulate what they see.
Branding products in a way that relates to children can create brand loyalty by the time they have their own money. The American Psychological Association suggests that marketing departments prey on teens' natural insecurities by teaching them that material possessions can make them more popular. This marketing encourages teens to purchase prestigious items that will help them to fit into their peer groups. In many cases, teens will continue to use these products as adults because they are familiar with them.
Restaurant chains often market their products toward young people, as it is estimated that more than $1 billion is spent on advertising towards youths annually. This has a major influence on how teens eat and, therefore, their health. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity reports that about 15 percent of all American youths are overweight, which is three times higher in teens than it was in 1980. This obesity is often linked to eating away from the home, as teens and children now receive 50 percent of their calories from added sugars and fats.
Advertising has a particularly strong influence over teenage girls, especially when it comes to self-image. Teen girls spend more than $9 billion per year on makeup and skin care products in an attempt to achieve an unattainable ideal that the media has created. Marketers exploit the insecurities of teens by labeling items as a solution to a teen's blemishes. This, however, hinders long-term confidence, especially when the product does not work as advertised.