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Pester power and household purchasing decisions

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January-December 2015 (n=2,906). Base: Australian children 6-13 years

We’ve all heard of ‘pester power’, but how much input do children really have into household buying decisions? According to the latest Roy Morgan Research Young Australians Survey, this depends on their age and what is being purchased.

When asked to nominate which items they ‘mainly decide’ to purchase from a list of 30 products (ranging from food and leisure goods to technology and toiletries), 42.3% of Australian children aged between six and 13 years chose ‘type of breakfast cereals’, 42.1% said ‘brand of sweets’ and 41.6% named ‘shoes for me’.

In contrast, 84.7% named the ‘family car’ as something their ‘parents mainly decide’ on, followed by ‘brand of shampoo’ (75.2%) and ‘brand of conditioner’ (74.5%).

But it’s not all black and white. While many Aussie kids may not have the final say on household buying decisions, their opinions do count. For example, 38.1% reported helping their parents decide which ‘clothes for me’ to buy, an almost identical proportion to those who said they helped their folks decide on ‘DVDs/Blu-rays’ (37.8%) and ‘movies rented’ (37.6%).

Levels of influence Aussie kids have over their family’s purchasing decisions


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January-December 2015 (n=2,906). Base: Australian children 6-13 years

Not surprisingly, Australian kids aged 10-13 are consistently more influential than 6-9 year-olds in their family’s purchasing decisions, and tend to use their pester power for different kinds of items than younger children.

Top 5 household purchasing decisions in which Australian children ‘mainly decide’


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January-December 2015 (n=2,906). Base: Australian children 6-13 years

While the 6-9 year-old age group is most likely to exert influence over food-buying decisions (with toys being the only inedible item in their top five), older children’s input ‘mainly decide’ on purchasing shoes, clothes and leisure products, with  the only food in their top five being sweets such as chocolates and lollies.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Marketers and brands have long recognised children as a consumer group worth targeting. Although kids may not have the financial means themselves to buy things they’ve seen advertised, they certainly have the persuasive powers: just ask any parent!

“If we look at the top five consumer products Aussie kids feel they ‘mainly decide’ to buy, these tend to be items with a child-focused approach to advertising. Breakfast cereal brands, for example, are renowned for targeting kids, whether in an aspirational way like Nutri-Grain (if you eat Nutri-Grain, it’ll help you become an iron man) or in a fun, cartoony  way (Froot Loops spring to mind – even their website is a technicoloured bonanza of games and videos).’Kidfluence’ does the rest, as children pester their parents to buy the cereal they’ve seen advertised.

 “As kids get older and their tastes develop, their input into household buying decisions grows. However, our data shows that the purchases they’re most likely to ‘mainly decide’ are related to their own ‘public image’, such as clothes and shoes, or to their leisure time such as games and toys. Possibly due to lack of interest (or lack of advertising that resonates with them), they tend to leave the decisions about buying everyday products such as toothpaste, shampoo or the family car to their parents.

“Of course, a child’s gender also determines the extent of their influence (and interest) in purchasing specific products. While girls aged 10-13 are more likely to ‘mainly decide’ which ‘clothes for me’, magazines and ‘make-up for me’ to buy, boys the same age tend to use their ‘kidfluence’ for buying computer/console games and sporting equipment.

“Savvy marketers and brands wishing to succeed with this sought-after consumer group must be able to identify whether to target kids directly or appeal to their parents, who – let’s face it – ultimately control the purse strings.” 

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%