What is cool and who is in? : Finnish marketing communication practitioners on brandand clothing-related bullying among children, social responsibility and prevention activities
Abstract: Background: In consumer culture, marketing communications is recognised as a communication system that shapes and provides resources for our understandings of the world. Arguably, those accounts channel and reproduce only dominant ideologies, which contributes to that understanding being narrow, by stigmatising those idiosyncrasies that exist beyond generally accepted norms of consumption. In relation to clothing and children’s socialisation, that stigma becomes treated differently, in a violent manner, compared to those who dress accordingly to the norms. Nevertheless, a solution for the issue is commonly sought in consumers, and not in marketers. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine Finnish marketing communication practitioners’ perceptions of the phenomenon and responsibility of brand and clothing-related bullying, and to explore activities that are associated with inhibiting the bullying behaviour. Additionally, pedagogical marketing communications is discussed in relation to the other prevention activities to explore how the concept is interpret by marketing practitioners. Method: The research was interpretivist and qualitative by nature. A method of semi-structured interviews was chosen to explore marketing communication practitioners’ perceptions of the subject matter. Findings: The findings of this study indicate that marketing communication practitioners do not consider children as competent, but rather as vulnerable social beings when it comes to consumer life. Being perceived as such, the practitioners view parents, society and marketers responsible for providing solutions to the complex phenomenon, which according to the practitioners has ultimately stemmed from the structural development of societies in which digitalisation and social medias play an integral part. Contribution: The research has three identifiable implications on both theoretical and practical fields of fashion and marketing. First, it gives valuable information on how marketers view children as a market. Second, it provides a new, marketer’s viewpoint of to look at the phenomenon. Third, it recognises the marketers to have their roles as consumers beyond their roles as marketplace authoritatives.
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