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How can parents prepare their children for the world of consumerism?

Exposure to regular shopping trips improves children’s ability to shop competently and understand the value of money

Bingley, United Kingdom, 13 June 2016 – Children are becoming consumers from a younger age and, with an increasingly significant budget at their disposal, there is a growing focus on them as a target market. How can parents ensure their children are able to make logical purchasing decisions?

In a new study, ‘How children make purchase decisions: behaviour of the cued processors’ from the Journal of Young Consumers, authors Gunnar Mau, Michael Schuhen, Sascha Steinmann and Hanna Schramm-Klein, explain that children whose parents regularly take them grocery shopping are more competent shoppers.  They are able to avoid making impulse purchases in reaction to the stimuli at the Point of Sale and are more focused on choosing the best value items when shopping, regardless of their age.

The study claims that children actively begin to make their own purchase decisions between the ages of six and eight and, for this purpose, often have a significant budget at their disposal, which they can use independently. For example, in Germany the annual income based on pocket money or small additional income for children aged 6 to 13 years old adds up to 1,85 billion euros (on average about 27 EUR a month per child). In the UK, as revealed by the Halifax pocket money survey, the amount children get on a weekly basis has hit a 9 year high. 

Children also have a great influence on their parents purchasing decisions. 85% of 6- to 13-year-olds have a say in which leisure time activities the family undertakes, and this influence is also evident on the purchasing of more expensive products and services e.g., a holiday or a car. 

It is therefore of high importance to the family budget that children have a greater understanding of the concept of money. 

The study shows that parents can directly influence children’s purchase competence by allowing their child to accompany them shopping and practising competent purchase decisions together. In this way, children can be trained to reconsider the different alternatives before making purchase decisions, to recall the learned knowledge or to use alternative information sources. 

Parents also pass on the significance of price in the decision-making process, with children whose parents consistently make extravagant or frivolous purchases, much more likely to make similar decisions. 

The research, ‘How children make purchase decisions: behaviour of the cued processors’, is free to access until 20 June 2016 and can be downloaded here

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