Saturday, 20 July 2019

Branded toy giveaways encourage consumerism in children


Slap bang in the middle of Plastic Free July seems an odd time for a well known UK food retailer to launch its Little Shop series of "free" toy products with each £20 you spend.  Quite understandably some eco-aware people have been up in arms about this pointing out that many of the mini items are plastic and at a time retailers should be working hard at reducing plastic the marketing team of this shop have come up with this idea.  They are, of course, not alone.  Macdonalds have been giving away free toys for years and in Australia 2 well know supermarkets are doing the same thing.


M&S have tried to defend their decision saying the plastic is all recyclable but that is not really the point, after all how many will actually end up in the recycling and as I have said so many times before recycling is not the answer?  However whilst the plastic issue should not be ignored I feel there is a bigger and more serious threat to the environment through schemes such as these.  M&S is an upmarket food retailer that sells a large range of ready cooked meals, imported and plastic packed produce. Through the little shop items M&S are encouraging children to become their consumers of the future thus increasing how much of these unsustainable foods they purchase.  This is even outlined in the press release about the mini shop launch:

"A similar campaign proved to be hugely popular in Australia last year with one of its largest supermarkets, Coles, driving sales and social media talkability about the supermarket and its products."

Branded Toy Giveaways encourage consumerism in children



This giveaway isn't about giving children toys, it is all about developing brand loyalty.  It is often the case that once a consumer finds a brand they like and are used to they will stick to it come what may, without questioning its price or how environmentally friendly (or not) it may be.  This is why all shops work so hard at developing a distinctive brand through their logos and adverts ... the mini shop is just an extension of this, priming children to become the M&S shoppers of the future.  And, as I keep writing in this blog, fundamental to reversing climate change is the need to reduce how much of everything we buy.  We do not need to be encouraging consumerism in the citizens who will suffer most from the effects of Climate Change - our children.

If you think shops such as M&S should be banned from running these sorts of giveaways there is a petition you can sign.  You can also contact the retailers direct either by email or on their social media pages and you can also boycott their shops (do let them know).

When shops do toy giveaways it is all about building brand loyalty and encouraging children to be consumer focused - this is bad for the planet where we need to be curbing how much "stuff" we buy. 
Our planet needs us to turn our backs on consumerism and these giveaways should be some of the first things to be banned.  Do you agree?

Branded Toy Giveaways encourage consumerism in children

8 comments :

  1. I know , right? It instills the whole ‘buy and get rewards’ mentality. Also rewards you don’t really need! Point collecting and fake sales that make you buy and buy if you fall for them

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  2. I completely agree! Something similar that is happening in the U.S. is a petition for McDonald's to stop including plastic toys with their happy meals.

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  3. I feel the same way, especially "happy meal" type toys. We never eat at junky fast food restaurants anyway, but I dread the day that my kids discover that some of their friends have been getting toys with their meals there. It's an unfair practice to use a child's natural desire for play as a weapon to pressure their parents to take them there to eat, especially when the food is literally engineered to be unhealthy and addictive. And where we live in suburbia it can sometimes feel like we're in a tiny minority of families that feel this way. So I'm glad to know you see this problem and care about the issue as well!

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  4. very thoughtful post. I remember being addicted to the free toys you get from mcdonalds! i think that became illegal in canada eventually. but wow did it ever work when they were doing it.

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  5. I wholeheartedly agree. I hate letting my little one watch the popular kids channels because of the huge amount of commercials they show! He’s never seen the toys they promote, but after commercials, he asks for them! He’s barely 3! It’s overwhelming, but I hope that teaching him that a lot of toys is not a good thing will stick with him as he grows.

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  6. Happy Meal toys drive me mad - who needs cheap plastic tat?! I wonder if big business is taking any notice of the plastic problem - or the environmental crisis - at all.

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  7. I think I have been living under a rock because I had no idea about this. My kids are a bit big for this, so it may pass us by. Not very green of M&S at all. We try and avoid the plastic tat from McD's if we can too!

    s straws. He is such a twerp...

    #goinggreen

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  8. Unnecessary plastic in children's toys, often for toys that will only be used once off or for a very limited time period (I'm thinking all these novelty toys) really is an issue. And very much driven by marketing and the companies behind.... great topic, very much overlooked I think.... #goinggreen

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