Handle the pestering effectively

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Kids can be easily influenced by the advertisements on various media platforms. Every day we are showered with countless advertisements; they are in newspapers, on billboards, hoardings, banners, websites, newspaper insertions and TV. Whether we like them are not – we are exposed to about hundreds of them on a daily basis. Majority of the time, we ignore them because we are used to tune them out, but kids retain them. They are the captive audience. Do you know that the average American child watches an estimate between 25,000 to 40,000 television commercials per year, and an average UK child watches about 10,000 commercials per year? The kid market is a flourishing worldwide. Across the world children have and are assuming the role of decision makers from a relatively young age. They have a say on which car, mobile, fridge, TV, which colour should the house have, which footwear brand should he/she and the parents wear, which channel to view. You name the procurement and they have their opinion. In marketing this phenomenon is called “Pester Power.” Children usually nag their parents to get things done their way.

Marketers use different media vehicles to communicate with this target audience. A media vehicle which the kid market is very conversant with is television. Television viewing by children has been increasing at an exponential rate especially in the developing countries.  If you observe closely, you will see that most commercials have at least one or two child models in them even if the product or service is not meant for kids. Consequently, television commercials appear to have a large impact upon the brand preference and purchase behavior of children.

Do you know that the minivan was created, because children demanded more room? The three-door minivan was not considered cool. Every auto manufacturer has a strategy to target children, observes a market researcher named James McNeal, who specializes in the children’s market.  The renowned behaviorist was also vice president of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency and is a spokesperson for the idea that any child, conditioned early enough, could be turned into anything right from a doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and anything, advertisers tap into this vulnerability of children. Young children are increasingly the target of advertising and marketing because of the amount of money they spend themselves and the fact of influence they have on their parents spending. While we used to see child-targeted marketing concentrating on sweets and toys, it now includes clothes, shoes, a range of fast foods, sports equipment, computer products and toiletries as well as adult products such as cars, house, banking and credit cards.

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Don’t we all love to watch commercials with kids in it? Our heart ticks, they are heartwarming sometimes and often more successful in giving the precise message. This fact is used beautifully by few advertisers. Airtel in their commercial named ’Barriers break when people talk’ the premise: Two boys, separated by border fences. One of them asks another one to kick a football and they end up crawling under the fences and start playing football together. The core idea is that simple act of communication can bring people together. The film has been created by Rediffusion DY&R.

One survey in America found that 79% of adolescents nationally owned an iPod or MP3 player, 75% owned a cell phone, and 69% owned a desktop or laptop computer. The changing trends in usage and ease of mobility of many of these devices challenge our thinking whether the media exposure is worth it? Are the kids getting too much of exposure into adult world in their susceptible age? Can the increased access to media be minimized with its associated risk factors?

I recall one Times of India ad few years back. The ad starts with a traffic jam due to a massive tree fall blocking a road. While a special way out has been arranged for the VIP, the rest continue to criticize the country as it rains. Suddenly, a kid comes around and tries to move the big tree. Seeing him struggle, other kids and commuters join him and manage to remove the tree to clear the traffic. The inspiring music was composed and performed by Indian musical trio Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy. The ad gives the message: wake up and the country will follow automatically. Kids are more effective to give a message.

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Pester power is very effective which has never been reported by any research. Pester power is criticized for one key fact that is the repeated nagging by the child irritates parents to no end.  However, young children may not be articulate enough to have any other feasible methods of persuasion, and let’s not forget the fact that advertisements are specifically designed to encourage young children to nag. One research on this topic suggests that one in six parents claim they now find it difficult to say “no” to their child when pestered to buy them for something and nine out of 10 parents said their children demand things when out shopping together, hence parents prefer to leave the offspring at home to avoid their pestering.

Parents succumb to their children’s demand for gifts and gadgets whenever they ask for them. These items have a great sales because of kids demand electronic gadgets like mobiles, TV, computers of their choice, and they demand changing them often. The parents ‘give in’ easily to their children’s demands because they feel guilty for spending lesser time with their kids and for working long hours. They also don’t want their children to be bullied at school for not having the latest ‘must-have’ item. This include sort of bribing the children for doing their homework and other assignments in time.

But look at the flipside: The world’s leading climate economists are using pester power to influence their parents and other adults into doing more to save the planet. Climate-change campaigners have a new weapon in the fight against global warming. They feel that today’s young people can and should hold their parents’ generation to account for their present actions. They can provoke an emotional response that can motivate actions. Lord Stern, a respected London School of Economics professor who wrote on the financial implications of climate change in 2006, feels using pester power will be a wise thing.

One of the most commanding ways you can encourage your children to contribute in your decision making is to teach them how to make decisions, and to allow them to make their own decisions. The decisions that your children make as they approach maturity dictate the people they become and the life paths they choose. Unfortunately, we shy away from allowing our children’s decision-making.

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A Professor with 15 years of teaching and 20 years industry experience. My core teaching areas are Marketing Strategy and General Management. While I am a Professor of Marketing and General Management, I have also worked as Director of few Management Institutes in Mumbai. I am a research guide in Mumbai University, SNDT University and YCMOU (Yashwantrao Chawan Maharashtra Open University, Nasik) 6 students have got their PhD degree under my guidance so far, and 11 students are registered for their PhD with me. Research is my passion, and I work on live projects from the industry. I strongly believe that the principal goal of research is to discover new knowledge, while that of teaching is to impart well-established knowledge and provide training in problem-solving. At present I am working as a Director for a Center of Excellence with an 80 years old Educational institution in Mumbai. I am a results-driven researcher, qualified with a PhD in Marketing Management from Pune University, a Post Doctoral Degree D.Litt from Mumbai University. I have authored above 100 articles and research which are published in news papers, business magazines and research journals. I have also authored two books. I am appointed as a Senate Member in Swami Ramanand Teertha Marathwada University, Nanded as the Maharashtra Governor’s nominee. Today we need greater industry-academia collaboration in research in institutes of higher education. I am confident that I will be able to facilitate the organizations with my research skills to create, integrate, and apply advancements in tricky areas. Thus, in my own way I could collaborate between industry and academia. I am curious, responsible, knowledgeable person with a scholarly approach.

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