Children do develop brand loyalty and biases that carry over into their adult lives and are often difficult to change, research shows.
From a very young age, children are targeted with advertising messages that emphasise fun and happiness, especially for food products and toys.
But what happens to these beliefs once the child is grown?
"Our research provides an initial investigation into how exposure to ads in childhood can lead to enduring biases that favour products associated with the ads once the kids grow up," wrote Paul M. Connell from Stony Brook University and Merrie Brucks and Jesper H. Nielsen from University of Arizona.
The authors examined adults' judgments of the healthiness of various products, some of which were heavily advertised in their childhood years.
Participants viewed images of characters that would have been widely advertised when they were children.
The results showed that when exposed to advertising using characters before age 13, we develop positive long-term feelings towards the characters and the brands' nutrition for years to come.
Additionally, the researchers found that people who harbour strongly positive feelings toward the advertising character resist changing their minds about the products featured in the ads.
They also discovered that these effects are not limited to the products that were originally advertised.
That is, if people continue to have positive feelings toward advertising characters, then they also rated fictitious new brand extensions as healthier.
The findings may give some insight into public health and safety campaigns aimed at children.
These results are interesting for consumers themselves, particularly parents, the authors said in the study published in the Journal of Consumer Research.