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Are Labels Invisible to Children?

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Are Labels Invisible to Children?

A new study focusing on the relationship between 4- to 5-year-old children and labels suggests marketers may want to re-examine how they appeal to this demographic.

The study, which was conducted by Ohio State University, found that young children do not process and perceive labeling systems as adults do. Labels, the research noted, are often just one more feature of a product instead of part of a system of classification.

In the experiment, participants were asked to determine the name of a fictional animal that was mislabeled as another animal. Whereas ninety percent of children named the animal dependent on the characteristics of its head, only 18 percent of adults did, with nearly two-thirds depending on the label.

"In the past, we thought that if we name the things for children, the labels will do the rest: children would infer that the two things that have the same name are alike in some way or that they go together," Vladimir Sloutsky, co-author of the study and a professor of psychology at OSU, said.

For marketers and businesses looking to relate to children or warn them away from things like medications and cleaners, the takeaway may be that they need to find another way to communicate through labels.