Rapid development of high technologies made phenomenon of media widespread. In modern world, there is a tendency that the more advanced the media is, the higher its influence on consumers will be. People use media every day, while watching TV, reading newspapers, listening to the radio, surfing the Internet, social networking. Time which they spend on these activities grows day by day. However, hardly anyone thinks about how it influences his/her life. The initial purposes of the media – to inform and to entertain, have integrated into one goal – to manipulate. Mass media influences people’s views, preferences, dreams, life choices etc. The most shocking in this situation is the fact that people are not aware of this impact and how it changes their lives. In such a way, mass media, using numerous hidden manipulative strategies, has become a serious instrument of influence on people’s minds.
The most frequent media users are children and youth. Therefore, the main priority of mass media is to satisfy their desires and needs. Taking into consideration the fact that young adults comprise the biggest group of purchasers and influence popular tendencies on the market, they have become target audience for media.
In spite of limited financial instruments, young adults have a big purchasing power. Due to the results of Harris Interactive research, oriented on the financial abilities of Generation Y, young Americans who ranged in age from eight to twenty one annually receive $211 billion in total. Moreover, the data of the investigation demonstrates that the sum of money they spend per year is approximately 172 billion dollars, at the same time they manage to save 39 billion dollars as well. The study “Youth Pulse,” which was conducted online, has concluded that the purchasing ability of young buyers rises significantly due to their age. In such a way, children aged 8 to 12 spend $19,1 billion, teenagers aged 13 to 19 – $94,7 billion, and young adults aged 20-21 spend approximately $61,3 billion per year (Study Shows Buying Power of Youth, 2003).
John Geraci, vice president at Harris Interactive, is convinced that the impact of every individual from Generation Y on consumers’ expenditure is very impressive. He also suggests that adolescents significantly influence adults’ buying decisions. Therefore, they turn into a market segment for popular brands (Study Shows Buying Power of Youth, 2003). To achieve their goals, these brands effectively use social media. By the means of social networks, it is much easier to attract young customers and manipulate their purchasing choices. That is why successful companies make great efforts to arrange an interaction with their prospective customers. Usually, young adults devote much time to social media and become vulnerable to the influence of marketing strategies. All in all, they turn into a prime target of one big fraud called “manipulation.” Young people tend to confirm their purchasing choices considering public opinion. They have to check comments on the product in the social networks before buying it. Owing to modern technologies, they can get access to the Internet wherever they are. In such a way, famous brands keep an eye on the process of purchasing.
In such a way, brands benefit greatly from social media. According to the study conducted at the Compete Institute, 56% of brand followers on Twitter would buy the product, while only 47% of its supporters on Facebook would do the same. It could be assumed that Twitter seems to be more reliable source for consumers than Facebook. However, it may be caused by the fact that Twitter is mainly oriented on more mature users. In any case, there are a lot of obvious motives for companies to develop better system of interaction with their customers (The impact of social media on consumer behavior, 2012).
Another tool used by media to influence adolescents’ purchasing preferences is advertising. In general, advertisement has always remained one of the most effective instruments of manipulation. Nowadays, it has advanced a lot, and its techniques have become more subtle. The main target of advertisement is to create positive effect from perceiving the information, and as a result, to make consumers take appropriate actions. The creators of advertisement, exploiting youth ability to manipulate adults and to shape purchasing traditions in the family, send the message of commercials directly to them. In such a way, they interfere in consumers’ lives and impose their own views. Mostly, the advertisement promotes objects of the highest interest among young adults. Generally, they are fast food, sweets, games, toys, gadgets, clothes, cosmetics, and other bits and pieces. It was calculated that the expenditure on advertising of target products for youth was approximately 15 billion dollars, in 2004. A huge sum of money is invested in advertising in order to make it efficient and to expand its sphere of influence (Calvert, 2008).
One of the hidden aims of advertisement is to create a standard and make consumers follow it. Young people are more than adults affected by this obtrusion. Youth are eager to look like their idols, lead the same lifestyles as they do etc. In a nutshell, they want to meet a standard at any price. Consequently, adolescents are ready to buy advertised products just in order to achieve desirable results (Achtenberg, 2006).
Media has a potent influence on the purchasing decisions and habits of young adults. However, media not only controls their buying preferences, but also shapes their purchasing patterns and influences their decisions. A lot of hidden strategies are applied in order to manipulate consumers’ minds. Therefore, it is essential for youth to be aware of possible marketing fraud and to protect themselves from its impact.