Here’s how to handle your child’s classic case of “I waaaaaant!” and “Gimme! Gimme!”
“Pester power” is a marketing term that refers to a children’s ability to persuade their parents to purchase items they otherwise would not buy. According to studies, today’s kids have more autonomy and decision-making power within the family than kids in previous generations. Consequently, today’s kids are more vocal about the products they want their parents to buy.
Fancy A Dash Of Guilt To Go With The Nag?
According to the marketing book Kidfluence: Why Kids Today Mean Big Business by Anne Sutherland and Beth Thompson, kids use their “pester power” in two (2) ways:
Blame The Brain
Nagging for few things is usually manifested in kids aged 5 or 6. Younger kids do not usually care about how much a toy costs. As long as they are playing with something, they are happy.
Kid consumers, especially those below age 7 or 8, are easy targets because they aren’t aware that the intent of advertising is to get them to buy things. Until they are at least 6 years old, children don’t develop the cognitive capacity (known as “Theory of Mind”) to see that other people have their own beliefs, desires, mental states, and motives. Hence, they tend to take advertised claims about a product literally.
Developing brand loyalty is done subconsciously. According to a study done by the Center for a New American Dream, babies as young as 6 months can form mental images of corporate logos and mascots. Brand loyalties can be established as early as age 2, and by the time children head off to school, most can recognize hundreds of brand logos.
Why They Gotta Have ‘Em
There are three reasons behind kiddie demands: media, peers, and yes, even parents.
1. Media. Up to age 4 or 5, kids can’t spot the difference between advertising and regular programming. They watch commercials and TV shows with equal attention. Commercials aimed at this group often associate the product with fun and happiness, rather than talk about product facts. So, if kids see an ad for a new toy or a new food product, they feel that they have to buy it becuase it will make them “cool”. Toy tie-ups with hit movies or TV shows are even hotter tickets for preschoolers. They feel happy or excited if they are wearing a T-shirt of their favorite cartoon character.
2. Peers. Kids want what their friends or classmates have. They feel that they belong to a group if they have what the group also possesses. One teacher shared a story, “One day, I asked the students to bring their favorite toys to school and they were so excited. But the next day, parents told us na nagpapabili na ‘yung mga kids nila ng new toys because their classmates had them. A child even asked his mother to buy him a particular toy that very. day.”
3. Parents. Minsan, ginagawang bribe ng parents ‘yung toys so their kids will behave well or be motivated to strive for high grades in school. This creates a desire in the child to constantly own new things. Sometimes what the child wants is far too impractical.
Some parents simply cave in when their child throws a tantrum in public to get a new toy. It may seem easier to just give in para matahimik na, ‘di ba? But if you do, your child will conclude that throwing tantrums works, and will do so the net time he sets his eyes on something new.
With more purchasing power given to kids nowadays, experts advise parents to inculcate the correct consumer habits in their kids during their formative years. Otherwise, it will be hard to correct misguided consumer behavior later on. Do not underestimate your children. If you explain to them clearly why they cannot have a certain item, they can understand why.