An Exploratory Analysis of Children's Consumption and Identity Projects

PhD Thesis

Mingazova, Diliara 2018. An Exploratory Analysis of Children's Consumption and Identity Projects. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Business and Law
AuthorsMingazova, Diliara
TypePhD Thesis

The thesis aims to extend the child brand relationship theory, a significant part of
consumer culture theory (CCT), and consequently, provide a deeper understanding of
the roles that brands play in the lives of children. It draws upon the literature of CCT,
brand relationship theory and children as consumers. The objectives of this research are
to explore children’s understanding of the symbolic meanings of their brands, gain an
understanding of how children use these meanings in their lived experiences and, in
order to gain an understanding of the child brand relationships in context, explore
different aspects of children’s social and personal lives. The methodological approach
of this research is qualitative because this research is primarily explorative in its nature.
Thirty-one in-depth interviews were conducted with children of both genders, aged
between 5 and 9 years old. The data was analysed using a coding process together with
thematic analysis. In keeping with marketing scholarship, children in this research are
viewed as active consumers who construct their individual and social identities and
contribute to the social world. Consequently, children’s own experiences and opinions
were captured and ten themes emerged which reveal that children have purposive and
meaningful relationships with brands at earlier ages than existing research suggests and
these relationships are important for their social and personal lives. These themes
provide the key findings of this research. The first theme explains that children’s selfesteem
is enhanced in the context of the digital age. Themes two and three demonstrate
that brands help children develop their desired selves, gain social acceptance and
position themselves and others in a social world. The fourth theme reveals that children,
through the gendered symbolic meanings they attach to brands, are seeking to express
their individuality amongst their peers. Next, this research establishes that children use
brands to support their transition into adulthood and complete their social identities. The
concepts of fantasy and brand relationships are explored in theme six which clarifies
that superhero brands help children to create their “fantasy” worlds. Theme seven
demonstrates that children have meaningful connections with brands which are
embedded into their social relationships with parents/ caregivers. The final three themes
show that certain brands which children use help them to obtain social affiliation in
school, support their life-projects and entertain them. This research contributes to
scholarship in the fields of CCT, brand relationship theory and studies of children as
consumers. It provides new insights into children as active consumers which extends
the brand relationship theory and is also valuable to marketing practitioners. Research
limitations and future research are presented in the final chapter.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintSep 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited03 Oct 2018
Publisher's version
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