Pester Power: Influence of Children in Purchase decision

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 3836 , Published on 19 September 2014

Relatively very little is known about children influence on parent purchasing decision. However, there has been recently increase in the recognition of children importance in the family purchase decision. Therefore, it is commendable to include children’s purchasing behavior as a part of the marketing strategy.

In the context of increasing competition and changing social and economic environment, it has become essential for the marketer to be customer oriented. One of the most important aspects before building a marketing strategy is the need to understand the desire and the buying behavior of the customer. Children constitute a significant part of target zone. Hence, from marketer perspective in order to tap the market more efficiently it is important to understand the influence of the children in parent purchasing decision. India has one of the largest populations of children in the world and Indian children have substantial influence on their parents in regard to making purchasing decision. Indian society to a greater extent differs from the west in terms of family composition and structure, the values imparted to the children and the behavior aspect is also different. Hence it becomes important to understand children’s influence in the purchase decision making in families in the Indian context.

Children today have more important and influential place in the society than their parents ever had. Nowadays children have more autonomy within the family than in the previous generations, so it follows that children are more vocal about what they want their parents to buy. The role that children play in parent purchasing decision has directed researcher to study the influence of children. According to the study conducted in 2012 by Viacom’s Nickelodeon, kids pick what to eat 85% of the time at fast- food visit. The Nickelodeon Study also found out that family decision making in general is more inclusive these days; more than half of the parent seek their kids input and just under half say their family discusses and decides major decision together (sources: Times business and money, April 11th 2013) . An increasing number of nontraditional advertisers like Maruti Suzuki, Honda bikes and Samsung are advertising on the kids channel as more children participate in their parent purchasing decisions and parent watch television with their children (sources: The Economic Times August 5th 2013).

Today, understanding the consumer buying behavior has become very important. Creativity alone is not enough; marketing creativity along with the understanding of the buying behavior of the customer plays a significant role in strategic marketing planning. In order to build a strategy to capture the market, understanding of the buying behavior of the customer is essential.

Parents no longer believe in controlling their children with the stick. As per the survey conducted by the Cartoon Network in 2012 among 9000+ respondents, around 84% of the children influence family buying decisions. Usually when high involvement products are involved, parents take most of the decisions with very less inputs from the child but when it comes to low involvement products, parents usually give into their children’s demands. Once the product is chosen, its augmented characteristics are chosen by parents keeping in mind the views of their children.

Interest – Influence Framework suggesting Pester Power

The level of marketing efforts required to target the children depends on what is the level of interest in that particular brand or category. The focus will always be towards convincing the parents to buy the product but keeping in mind the likeability to the children too. The communication of the brand should be in a way that creates a proper rational and conviction to the parents and also highlighting the benefits to the children.
We will discuss the Interest – Influence framework to showcase how the marketing strategies are directed at children. Below is the graph between the Interest and Influence which showcases that what should be the marketing strategy at each zones of influence.

Figure 1: Interest- Influence framework: Focus on marketing strategy targeted at children

Preference Zone: In this zone, we need to create an interest in the target audience by creating a brand awareness, by building familiarity and liking of the product to the customers and at the same time highlighting the benefits to the children. And we should work towards selling the product and increasing the influence to the customers. As the interest increases in a product, the Influence also becomes high for the same and thus resulting in a purchase of the product.

Pester Zone: The most important zone for marketers, as in this stage the interest levels are already high, and we need to tap into the children’s mind by building a desire to purchase the product. This can be done by establishing an emotional connect with the child or showcasing the fun part or involving them in fun activities. This in turn will also influence the parents.

Purchase Zone: In this zone, focus has already been on your product as the purchase decision has been made by the consumer and they have recognized your brand. But sustaining the same image is something very important. This can be done by fun and exciting brand building activities, heavy sales promotions and providing the customers with incentives and value that they don’t easily move to other brand. The value proposition should be highlighted in the best possible manner.

We can see a couple of examples where this framework has worked perfectly.

  • First is the Harry Potter book which created a buzz in the children and the parents at the same which was a major reason for the success of the book all over the world.
  • Second is the McDonalds happy meal, which attracted a lot of children with the toys range with every meal, which leveraged on the famous cartoon and the movie characters. This is an important activity of the pester zone.


Figure 2: Pester power examples through Interest – Influence framework

Conclusion and recommendations to the marketers

The decision process is however highly subjective: in some families the children act as the initiators where they first put demand for a product. There are many factors which act as an influence during this phase. These factors are advertisements on specific channels like cartoon network (45 %) or music channels (50 %), influence by peer group (39 %). These led to their demonstrating different behavioral characteristics so as to push demand for their desired product. In the second stage, parents take the front seat and do cost benefit analysis, which are generally ignored by children. These analysis are done for high cost products. In case of low cost ones parents usually gave into their children’s demands. Once the product is chosen, its augmented characteristics are chosen by parents keeping in mind the views of their children.

It will benefit marketers in developing marketing strategies focused on children, keeping parents in mind.

It is also true that parents spend most of their leisure time with their children while watching TV and while shopping. And it is a fact that this affects the parents purchase decision making even for products which they wouldn’t have actually used.

Marketers need to scrutinize the actions taken by them in targeting children and should keep the communication of the brand which is targeted to both parents and children coupled with the fun and exciting image of the brand which the parents also see in a positive manner.

This article has been authored by Nishant Varun, FMS Delhi





If you are interested in writing articles for us, Submit Here