Children exercise their influencing power in the form of nagging behavior to impact the purchase decision making process of their parents or others. This nagging behavior of children to influence their parents is called pester power. It is because marketers are focusing on children in their advertising campaign that has rationalized the children to influence the decision making process of their parents. Children are being targeted in marketing campaigns as an important target market because it has been realized by the marketers that children have the power in their nagging to influence or impact the parents. Different ethical and social problem arise when marketers target kids in their advertisements and marketing campaigns. Different researchers argue that governments should ban the advertisements that are targeted to children because the nagging behavior of children is a threat to society. It is because children have more incomes nowadays in the form of pocket money and they try to dictate the decision making of their parents with their bargaining power that creates several social issues and problems. marketers are exploiting children in the marketing campaigns that increases the pester power in children. As a result, they nag and force their parents in purchase decision making. This practice of marketers is unethical because it causes several social problems in families and society. Questionnaire surveys are used in this research and 30 parents are selected to conduct the research using convenience sampling. The study is interviewer completed. The findings reveal that advertising increasing the nagging behavior of children and it affects the children negatively. It is recommended that this practice of advertising targeted a children must be stopped and marketers must prevent this unethical practice as it is creating several moral, ethical, and social problems.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Competition and saturation in the business world have created a clutter and noise that make it difficult for marketers to sell or market their products or services. This competition and complexity in the business world has encouraged the marketers to devise innovative marketing strategies targeted at non-conventional target audience to gain a competitive advantage over rivals. Conflicts among different rivals had encouraged the marketers to target kids in their marketing campaigns that had the influencing power to impact and influence the purchase decision making of their parents. (Soni & Upadhyaya, 2007)
Advertisements and marketing messages targeted at children are increasing day by day because marketers consider children as an attractive target market that has more bargaining as well as purchasing power nowadays with more pocket moneys and more nagging to force their parents. Children are more rational and influencing and they know how to argue with their parents regarding different brands. Changing family dynamics and values such as more working parents, more socialized world, and less parent-children interaction have rationalized the cognitive immature minds of children who can nag to change the decision of their parents or go in the market to buy different brands from themselves as their parents are busy. (Baumrind, 1996)
This has caused increase in Pester Power in children. Children exercise their influencing power in the form of nagging behavior to impact the purchase decision making process of their parents or others. This nagging behavior of children to influence their parents is called pester power. It is because marketers are focusing on children in their advertising campaign that has rationalized the children to influence the decision making process of their parents (Bachmann, John, & Rao, 1993)
This paper is intended to analyze the impact of advertising on the pester power in children as the advertising targeted to children has several ethical, moral, and social concerns.
Purpose of the Study
The basic purpose of this paper is to understand the impact of advertising and marketing communication on the pester power in children. Pester power is the nagging behavior of the children which they use to impact the purchase decision making process of their parents or to lure their parents to buy a brand for them. The objectives of this research are:
- To understand and analyze the impact of advertising on the pester power in children.
- To analyze the ethical, moral, and social concerns that are associated with such advertisements.
- To make recommendations to marketers and parents about minimizing this negative effect (nagging behavior) of advertising on children.
Study hypotheses are as follows:
H0: There is no relationship between advertising and pester power in children
H1: There is a positive relationship between advertising and pester power in children
Questionnaire surveys are selected to analyze the impact of advertising on pester power in children. There are certain limitations associated with this research study. Those limitations are:
- Certain errors and mistakes are expected from research participants as they could misunderstand the questions as well as anger, fatigue, tiredness, and biasness of research participants can make them select a wrong response.
- Some personal and confidential questions asked to research participants may contain misrepresented information due to social desirability bias. Such questions are usually misrepresented by participants because they do not want to disclose such responses to reveal such information publicly. This normally includes extremely personal questions such as age, religion, and family habits etc. It is ensured that the personal information of the research participants remains concealed in this research.
Some factors can be controlled in this study that are:
- Desired responses can be obtained from research participants by stating them in multiple choice questions. This increases the validity and reliability of the research.
- Response rate of questionnaire surveys is high because people are more responsive in selecting one response from multiple choices in close ended questions rather than writing long descriptions for open ended questions.
- Research questionnaires can be flexibly left with the research participants and can be collected after few days. This increases the response rate and involvement of participants.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
Information, technological development, and innovation have brought a revolution in the modern business world. This enables marketers to exploit the potential of information, technological development, and innovation to reach their target markets effectively and efficiently. This identifies an important impact of advertising on the pester power or nagging behavior of children. (Soni & Upadhyaya, 2007)
Children exercise their influencing power in the form of nagging behavior to impact the purchase decision making process of their parents or others. This nagging behavior of children to influence their parents is called pester power. It is because marketers are focusing on children in their advertising campaign that has rationalized the children to influence the decision making process of their parents (Bachmann, John, & Rao, 1993). Children are being targeted in marketing campaigns as an important target market because it has been realized by the marketers that children have the power in their nagging to influence or impact the parents. Children can dictate their parents’ purchase decision making now because they are more informed and exposed to advertisements (Baumrind, 1996).
It is important to note that children can impact the decision making process of their parents directly and indirectly (Berns, 2004). Advertising increases the nagging behavior of children which they exercise while making a purchase decision. But, this also raises some ethical concerns because it causes several social problems in the form of conflicts in family and advertising impacts the children negatively (Soni & Upadhyaya, 2007).
In this chapter, the impact of advertising on the pester power in children is researched. The chapter is divided in three main sections. The first section has introduced the paper. The second section critically reviews the literature to understand the impact of advertising on the pester power in children. The final section provides a brief summary of the chapter and concludes it.
Researchers and marketers argue that advertising targeted to children as well as advertisement targeted to mass media is most influential force that causes pester power in children (Berns, 2004). Cognitive immaturity of children makes them an exploitative target for marketers and they advertise by targeting them to make them nag in front of their parents to buy a product or service even if they or their parents do not need it (Collins, 1990).
The basic unethical tactic used by marketers is that they advertise children to make them nag for things that their parents do not want to purchase (Dotson & Hyatt, 2005). Most of the marketers encourage children in their advertising campaigns to advocate or impact the decision making of their parents. Some marketers present some critical situations in their advertisements where a hero saves some people in help and then the hero endorses the product to children. Children’s minds are immature and they start nagging in front of their parents to buy that product or service although the product is not for their use or it is adult product (Mascarenhas & Higby, 1993).
Several ethical dilemmas are identified in such advertisements to children. Different ethical and social problem arise when marketers target kids in their advertisements and marketing campaigns. For example, marketers in India focused more on advertising targeted to children as a tool to survive the recession. Indian economy was suffering from financial crisis where the bargaining power of parents had reduced. Marketers used such advertisements to make children advocate their parents to buy their products and services. Parents bought it in the love of their children but they suffered from serious financial problems and crisis by wasting their money in economic recession. This had adverse effects on the society and such ethical dilemmas are creating disruptions in the society. (Soni & Upadhyaya, 2007)
The marketers make such advertisements to encourage premature brand learning of the children. This encourages children to buy those brands (which they have seen in their childhood) in future when they have the money and resources to buy it. This is unethical because children’s minds are immature. Comic and different technologically oriented tools are used in such advertisement campaigns that are harmful to children’s immature minds. Children are engaged in different children films and products are services are advertised in such films through cross-selling and product placements. This can create negativity in children as they usually practice the stunts and actions of their favorite homes that could be dangerous of their health and physics. (McNeal & Yeh, 2003)
Different researchers argue that governments should ban the advertisements that are targeted to children because the nagging behavior of children is a threat to society. It is because children have more incomes nowadays in the form of pocket money and they try to dictate the decision making of their parents with their bargaining power that creates several social issues and problems. (O’Sullivan, 2005)
It is also argued that consumer behavior is taught to children through such advertisement campaigns that cause nagging and pester power in children. Children can never be consumers because their minds are not mature. This is an exploitation of children’s mind because children’s immaturity can create several problems for them and their parents while making purchase decisions. Moreover, children do not understand what is good and what is bad for them. Such advertisements are stereotyping children that are unethical. (Schulman & Clancy, 1992)
Advertising on television is considered as the most important reason for causing pester power in children. But, store visits and advertisements placed in stores encourage the children to nag their parents for impulse buying. Different celebrities and cartoon characters are used in television as well as outdoor and in-store advertisements that causes the nagging in children and boosts the pester power in children. For example, a fast food restaurant usually adds play place along with the dining hall or some retailer give away toys, snacks, sweets as gift with the products purchased. (Dotson & Hyatt, 2005)
Changing demographics of the world has indicated that youngsters and children are increasing in world population (Ward, Wackman, & Wartella, 1977). Children represent a profitable, non-rational, and large customer segment that marketers exploit in their marketing campaigns. Moreover, interaction of children with parents has decreased in the current age as both the males and females are working and they do not have time for their children. This provides an opportunity to marketers to penetrate the immature minds of children. (Soni & Upadhyaya, 2007)
In this paper, the impact of advertising on the pester power in children was researched. The paper was divided in three main sections. The first section introduced the paper. The second section critically reviewed the literature to understand the impact of advertising on the pester power in children. It is concluded that marketers are exploiting children in the marketing campaigns that increases the pester power in children. As a result, they nag and force their parents in purchase decision making. This practice of marketers is unethical because it causes several social problems in families and society.
Chapter 3: Research Methodology
In this study, 30 parents having children in the age of 10-18 years were researched and surveyed. The parents were surveyed when they were visiting Wal-Mart in New York, United States (US). The informed consent of the parents was obtained by explaining them the general purpose of the research study. Questionnaire survey was interviewer completed where researcher read out the questions in front of parents and recorded their answers. Convenience sampling was used to filter parents and the researcher asked them a filter question to filter them. 45 parents were accessed on Saturday, March 10, 2012 and only 30 of them agreed to participate in the research study.
English language was used to devise the questionnaire survey. The interviewer asked the questions in English language and respondents replied in English Language. Interviewer encircled the answers of parents and left the questionnaire with them to confirm their responses.
The questionnaires were emailed to three expert academic researchers at Harvard University who checked the questions and made recommendations to improve the design of the survey. The questionnaire survey was changed as per their recommendations. Initially, three parents were accessed to run a pilot test on survey design. They participate in survey and provided in feedback with their recommendations to improve the survey design. The questionnaires were modified according to their recommendations.
It is important to note that informed consent of the questionnaire surveys was obtained by interviewer by explaining the general purpose of the study in real time to participants as the questionnaire survey was interviewer completed. No follow ups were possible as participants engaged in the research in real-time and their responses were recorded in the real time. Only 30 participants agreed to engage in the research study with their informed consent and free will.
Chapter 4: Findings
Two questions have been selected to reveal the impact of advertising on the pester power in children. The responses are as follows:
Question 4: My children nag to buy a brand when they see ads on TV
Figure 4.1: Responses to Question 4
50% of the parents strongly agreed that their children nag to buy products and services when they advertisements on TV. This reveals negative effect of advertising on children.
Question 9: Sometimes, we buy products for our children due to their nagging even if we do not have money for them.
Figure 4.2: Responses to Question 9
33% replied with “strong agree” that they had to face several financial problems and family conflicts due to the nagging behavior of children. This nagging behavior of children was because of advertisements and it forces parents to buy products and services for children even if they do not have money to spare.
Chapter 5: Summary, Recommendations, and Conclusion
In this research paper, the impact of advertising on pester power in children was discussed and analyzed. The paper was divided in five main parts. The first part introduced the paper and provided background, purpose, hypothesis, study limitations, and study delimitations. The second part reviewed the literature critically by arguing on the basis of different peer reviewed articles, journals, books, and newspapers. The third part mentioned the research methodology and by revealing that this study used questionnaire surveys to analyze the impact of advertising on pester power in children. Findings were summarized and discussed in the fifth part. Sixth part is going to summarize, make recommendations, and conclude the paper.
The advertising targeted to children must be stopped as it is raising several ethical, moral, and social issues. Moreover, marketers must be stop this unethical practice of targeting kids in their marketing companies as it is against the principles of business and marketing ethics ethics.
It is concluded that advertising affects the kids negatively as it increases the nagging behavior of children. This creates several social, moral, and ethical issues for marketers and parents.
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Berns, R. M. (2004). Child, Family, School, Community: Socialization and Support (6th ed.).
Collins, J. (1990). Television and primary school children in northern Ireland, the impact of advertising. Journal of Educational Training, 16, 31-39.
Dotson, M. J., & Hyatt, E. M. (2005). Major influence factors in children’s consumer socialization. The Journal of Consumer Marketing, 22(1), 35-42.
Mascarenhas, O. A., & Higby, M. (1993). Peer, Parent and Media influences in teen apparel shopping. Journal of academy of marketing science, 21(1), 53-58.
McNeal, J., & Yeh, C. (2003). Consumer Behavior of Chinese Children:1995-2002. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 20(6), 542-554.
O’Sullivan, T. (2005). Advertising and Children – What do the kids think? Qualitative Market Research: An international journal, 8(4), 371-384.
Schulman, Y., & Clancy, K. (1992, February). Adults and children, a real gap. Adweek, p. 48.
Soni, S., & Upadhyaya, M. (2007). Pester Power Effect of Advertising. Retrieved April 22, 2012, from Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode: https://dspace.iimk.ac.in/bitstream/2259/355/1/313-324.pdf
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