Purchasing not pester power

Your factfile article on “Campaigns to pocket money” (MW September 9) lacked one vital piece of information: the age of the children surveyed.

When considering children’s influence on adult purchasing (so-called pester power), the age and gender of the children in question is crucial, as children are increasingly purchasing many products for themselves.

According to the 1997 Family Expenditure Survey by the Office for National Statistics, 15-year-olds spend more than four times as much on buying products for themselves than seven – to eight-year-olds do.

Our own research of 14- to 15-year-olds echoes these findings. We asked pupils “How much influence do you have on what your parents buy for you?”, listing various categories. There were four options – much influence, some, none and I buy for myself. We also split responses by gender.

In the snacks and drinks category, 24 per cent of girls and 25 per cent of boys said they have much influence, but 44 per cent and 41 per cent respectively purchase these products for themselves.

Music had the highest self-purchase result at 64 per cent for both boys and girls. Only 20 per cent said that they had “much influence” in this area.

The clothing category revealed gender differences with 48 per cent of girls buying their own clothes as opposed to 39 per cent of boys. However, 30 per cent of boys claimed to have a strong influence on the clothes their parents bought for them.

Stationery items are purchased direct by 40 per cent of boys and 30 per cent of girls. Finally, the shampoo category, not surprisingly, found more girls purchasing the product for themselves, although 33 per cent of both gender admitted to having much influence on the choice.

So, while advertising to children through whatever media does work, when it comes to the crucial purchasing of a product, matters are far more complex. Certainly, pester power is rife with the under-teens, but short-lived. It is clear that the young teens are purchasing for themselves earlier rather than nagging an adult.

Eddy Harding

Projects director

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