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Child “pester power” on the rise

Friday, 18 February 2011 | By Michelle Hammond

New research reveals a high degree of brand awareness among Australian children, with around half using “pester power” to persuade parents to purchase items including toys, games and breakfast cereals.

 

Research agency Roy Morgan recently published its Young Australians Survey, which surveyed 2983 Australian children aged six to 13 about hobbies, media consumption, retail activity and mobile phone uptake.

 

According to the survey 53% of children within the age bracket are the main decision-makers when it comes to buying games and toys.

 

The survey reveals 46% of children decide which breakfast cereal is purchased and 42% decide which computer and console games are purchased.

 

Children also have a say on their appearance, with 41% choosing which shoes are bought for them and 35% making main decisions about their clothes.

 

A total of 39% are the main decision-makers over which magazines are purchased, 37% have the final say over which DVDs are hired and 33% decide which CDs are bought.

 

More than a third of children surveyed believe they are successful with “pester power” for each of the aforementioned categories.

 

Roy Morgan industry director Michael Duncan says the influence young Australians have on purchasing decisions is significant.

 

“This generation is well informed and clearly understands brands, and specifically what they think is cool right now,” Duncan says.

 

“Whilst you would expect young Australians to have a major influence on toys and games, they also have a significant say in what they wear and eat, this generation often knows what they want and expects to be able to convince their parents to buy it for them.”

 

Lisa Tartaglia, a research analyst at the Australian Centre for Retail Studies at Monash University, says retail start-ups can use the figures to their advantage.

 

“In terms of marketing in the first instance (your product) has to be really appealing to the children because they’re the ones racing to their parent or guardian and trying to influence them to purchase it,” Tartaglia says.

 

Tartaglia says the next challenge is to convince parents that your product is worth purchasing.

 

“In terms of toys and games, an educational aspect always stands out for parents ... it’s an important aspect and will continue to be. Parents will ask themselves how will this product help my child?” Tartaglia says.

 

“With regard to the business itself you also need to establish a reputation for quality products. You would hope that retailers wouldn’t have a product on their shelves that doesn’t meet industry standards.”

 

Tartaglia says if a product doesn’t last or risks a child’s safety in some way the repercussions for a brand can be devastating and some businesses might never recover.

 

“For brands that have been on the market for a long time consumers are often more forgiving if it’s a reputable brand,” she says.

 

“This is not the case for a new brand so you need to make sure that before you go to market you’ve trialled and tested the product – so much more than the other companies – to ensure you’re definitely going to market with a safe, quality product.”

 

Rather than go down the traditional path of TV advertising Tartaglia suggests retailers open a temporary pop-up store that allows children to trial the products.

 

“For a retailer who’s looking to enter the market this would allow kids to fully interact with everything in the store,” she says.

 

“Parents would be able to gauge their child’s interest in a product and would feel as if they’re making a better judgement as to whether or not they should buy it.”