The importance of brands in the lunch-box choices of low-income British school children

Stuart Roper, Caroline la Niece

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


This research explores the consumer socialisation of children and adolescents from low-income groups. In particular, the importance of reference groups in cognitive development and understanding is investigated to gain insight into the consumption behaviours immediately before, during and after their 'tweens'.'Tweens' are defined as 8-12-year-olds. To gain a thorough insight into changes in opinion during tweenage years, 7-, 11-and 14-year-olds were interviewed in this study. In total 30 children from these three age groups were (depth) interviewed and their discourses were compared to show the development in understanding of brands and peer influence. Whereas previous studies have concentrated on the symbolism behind clothing brands this research looks at the meanings attached to different types of food and beverage brands. Our interviews suggest peers become more influential to consumption decisions as children move through the tweens and in our study, peer approval replaces family as the main influence behind consumption behaviour. Brand understanding also changes as the child becomes older; children learn how to identify commercial, super-market and budget brands and attach meaning to these different types of brands. The symbolic meaning of products and brands become more complex during the tween years as children view possessions as material symbols of identity and make inferences about peers based on their consumption choices. This research found that as children become older even simple products change from functional to symbolic items.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-99
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Consumer Behaviour
Issue number2-3
Early online date11 Feb 2009
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


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