In a study called KidPower, Global Consumer Insights and VIMN Africa interviewed 4 900 children around the world, including 191 kids in South Africa, between the ages of 6-11. We also interviewed 97 local parents. Participants were engaged online and thus reflect the online community of South Africa. We also included some insights from the US-based study Kidfluence, which explores the path to purchase based on family ethnographies.

What we found was that families have become a lot more inclusive when it comes to the decision-making process, and parents now seriously consider their children’s opinions before purchasing products. We uncovered several primary drivers in this collaborative, familial process.

The way millennials were raised has influenced their cooperative parenting style. As children, millennials were idolised by their parents, meaning their households were very child-driven. At the same time, many millennials spent their days at aftercare or playing team sports. As parents now, they bring these values of cooperation to their own families. These parents include their children in decisions, while avoiding putting them on pedestals as their baby-boomer parents once did to them.

Children today have more access to technology than ever before. Gen Z children are digital natives, with 84% of local children saying they have access to a smartphone, and 76% saying they have access to a tablet. This access means that children in the modern home are the key information hunters for their parents. Children are often tasked with researching products parents are considering purchasing.

Digital access and millennial experiences also make Gen Z kids more financially savvy. Kids described themselves as smart about money, with almost two thirds indicating that they are aware of the household budget. This is due, in part, to the unprecedented tech access these children have, exposing them to a wider scope of knowledge than ever before. It is also partly influenced by the fact that millennials entered the workforce during the Great Recession, and thus want to empower their children financially.

For both children and parents, strengthening the family and spending more time together is an emotional driver behind decision making. These family units collectively consider and purchase products that are seen to bring members closer together. Of SA parents interviewed, 79% of parents saying they want to be their kids’ best friends, and 92% of parents indicated that they always listen to their children’s opinions.

This collaborative nature of new families means that kids play a large role in influencing their parents purchasing decisions. In South Africa 70% of children aged 6-11 believe they play a part in buying things for the family, and 76% of SA parents agree with this statement.

Children indicated that they have an effect across a large range of shopping categories, including:

  • 99 % entertainment (80% influence what movies to watch at cinemas, and 91% influence TV shows chosen)
  • 95% food and groceries (72% of kids influence food shopping, and 58% influence general groceries)
  • 92% restaurants (83% have a say in what fast food to eat)
  • 90% clothes and shoes
  • 88% toys
  • 79% electronics (with 53% influencing mobile phone choice and 47% influencing TV purchases)
  • 65% vacation
  • 42% health and beauty products
  • 40% TV service provider

Gender makes little difference to purchasing decisions. Both genders are involved in the decision-making process for goods like clothes, shoes, tablets and cars. For example, 87% of boys and 92% of girls have a say in buying clothing, 24% of girls and 27% of boys influence the purchasing of cars, and 50% of girls and 47% of boys have a say over tech purchases like tablets.

This research indicates that there is a more democratic path to purchase amongst families today that brands should be mindful of when marketing. One of the key takeaways, is that both parents and children are looking for products that will allow the family unit to spend more quality time together, and as such this should be factored into marketing efforts. It’s also worth noting that children should not be underestimated in their ability to research and influence the purchase of particular brands or products and should form a key part of a target audience. Finally, as we’ve seen when it comes to shopping categories, gender plays a minimal role amongst children, as both have equal sway over buying decisions, and gender stereotyping amongst children should be avoided in marketing efforts.

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