THE CHILD CONSUMER AS AN ACTIVE MARKET PARTICIPANT
Keywords:child consumer, behavior, role
In the last decades, the children and teenage market has become significant as young people have greater disposable income than previous generations. Due to the fact that the purchasing power of young people continues to grow, marketers, manufacturers and advertisers are significantly interested in developing effective methods to reach the young market. Today, the interest in children and their consumer behavior is so great not only because they form a significant market segment and influence the decisions of their parents but also because their current behavior will largely shape and influence their future behavior. One of the main differences between the consumer and the child consumer is that children change their needs, preferences, behaviors, and the factors that influence them much faster. Children consumers are identified as an important and influential market. Research on children's development as consumers indicates that this process is directly related to their cognitive and social development. Children today are perceived as consumers, not as children, and their childhood is commercialized. Today, children are first recognized for an important market of consumers who spend their own money for their own wishes and needs, secondly for an influential market directing their parents money and third for a future market for all goods and services who if cultivated now will provide a steady stream of new consumers. Children consumers are active market participants who, in accordance with their cognitive and mental development, and under the influence of a number of factors and socialization in society, are changing dynamically their preferences. The purpose of this article is to give a brief overview of the theoretical concepts for the child consumer, broken through the prism of various scientific fields, and in this way to serve the building of a more layered image of the concept under consideration. The evolution of the perceptions about the child consumer, presented through historical review of theoretical concepts and research, is followed. Modern interpretations of the role and importance of the child as consumer in a market economy are discussed. This is done considering them as an important demographic group and segment. The issue about the role they play in family decision making is mentioned. This impact is not only for products designed for themselves but also for products which are for the family.