Through soap operas and family programmes, children will become ever more brand-conscious, says Stuart Roper

Although experts are predicting a huge increase in product placement in the light of culture minister Ben Bradshaw's announcement that the ban was being lifted, companies will still not be allowed to product place on television programmes aimed directly at children. Nevertheless, there is no doubt many brands will benefit from children viewing their products on TV.

Research shows snack and drink products now have almost the same cache as products such as trainers. Basic fmcgs have social significance, with children as young as seven recognising the power of brands to help them fit in.

Children consume in public far more than adults, whether in school or town centres, and to be seen with the 'right' brand is far more important to them than it is to adults.

Research shows that from the age of 11 children encourage others to purchase particular brands. Kids don't see it as pressure, but are eager to conform and take the advice of their friends.

By 14, children use fmcg brands to fit in. Soap operas on television are the absolute key to product placement as they are watched by a great number of children and a lot of the activity takes place in areas of consumption, such as cafés, corner shops and pubs.

The product placement of fmcgs will reinforce the messages that we should be eating and drinking brands that are 'cool', popular and admired.

Just as a baby is taught through repetition, companies will reinforce the strength of their brand by creating as many 'opportunities to see' as they can. I predict that in the near future half of all television programmes will contain some form of product placement.

Product placement will enable children to associate themselves with their favourite programme through brands and companies will strive to create those emotional connections. Being seen with the right snack or drink will become increasingly important and brand awareness will start younger and younger as children strive to conform to what they see on TV.n

Stuart Roper is senior lecturer in marketing at Manchester Business School