Kids Entertainment Brands & Embracing Pester Power …

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Kids Entertainment Brands & Embracing Pester Power

The term ‘Pester Power’ has been used for decades to describe the persistent pestering approach which children adopt when seeking to persuade their parent/s to purchase something they want for them.

Anyone reading this with their own children will know the power of persistent pestering! For those without, if you imagine the most persistent old school sales person you’ve ever encountered – some one who just won’t go away/take no for an answer regardless of how strictly you tell them no, then you’re probably getting to a fraction of what parents constantly experience on a daily and ongoing basis.

Commercially speaking, toy/entertainment brands targeting children benefit from this when they become highly desired. In effect, where a child has a strong desire to own/consume something, pester power becomes a strong driving factor which brands can benefit from. If we put aside the ethical debate about advertising to children/how far brands should go to encourage this, our research (hundreds of children and families recently interviewed) suggests certain key factors/realities that brands need to be aware of:

1. Pester Power remains really effective – while the expression may be as old as the hills, as highlighted above, this effect is still very powerful. Regardless of what trends you read about, or what some commentators may suggest, this isn’t going away. Pester Power remains as powerful an influence on purchasing as ever based on our research. What we have seen though over time is an increase in the number of tactics used by parents to deal with demanding offspring!

2. Down trading – parents often use the approach of ‘down trading’ whereby they set price/scope limits on what the child can have. The psychology behind this is insightful – it allows the adult to give in to the child in a way which protects their perception of themselves as ‘strict’ and ‘good’ parents. For example, parents may set a price point limit “OK, you can have the £1.99 version of that, but not the £9.99 version”.

3. You Don’t Get Something For Nothing – sometimes parents will give the child the opportunity to ‘earn’ the thing they seek by having them do something first that they may not have otherwise have wanted to do i.e. chores. homework etc.

4. Maybe Later – not now but later, maybe next time we come here etc., the given reasons can be “we don’t have time”, “I don’t have any money on me” or other such immediate obstacles. This is a fairly obvious delaying tactic though, and the challenge for the parent is that if the child really wants something, this may delay the inevitable, but the child usually won’t forget, and will therefore continue chipping away with repeated pestering.

5. Pass The Buck – Ask your father/mother/grand parent/teacher/anyone else! This is a coping mechanism used to pass the pestering on to another person, normally the other parent. This is often very effective in terms of freeing one parent from pestering, but won’t necessarily win the passing parent any popularity points with the receiving party!

There are some additional factors we see, but the list above covers the main tactics parents use to cope with pester power.

The point for toy or entertainment brands is to communicate to kids and parents in a way which takes account of both ongoing pester power and how parents deal with it in reality…finding a way to become an easy way out for parents, while still creating demand with children can vastly increase the impact of communications – whether it be TVCs, packaging or any other form of communication.


We love testing brands with kids and parents, and delivering actionable, meaningful commercially savvy feedback to kids entertainment brands. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you, or if you’d like us to submit a proposal for a specific research project, please drop us a line via the ‘Contact Us’ page…

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