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The effect of family communication structure on children’s influence strategies and parental responses in a purchasing context.

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Children are seen to have increasing power over family decision making and are regarded as being major participants in the consumer market and are an important target market. Not only do children have more power over their own spending, but they also have a greater influence over their parents’ spending. At the same time, family structures have changed, and parents have become more lenient with their children. Anitha and Mohan (2016) propose a conceptual model in which family communication structures affect the influence strategies used by children, which in turn affect parents’ responses. This research aimed not only to determine the relationship between family communication structures, children’s pestering, and parents’ responses, but also to test the model. A positivist paradigm and quantitative research design was used. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire. Using exponential snowball sampling, the sample consisted of 165 parents who completed the child portion of the questionnaire separately for each child thus giving a total of 300 child questionnaires. Non-parametric testing was then used to analyze the data showing the impact the various factors have on the final purchasing decision within a family household. Results were presented in the form of graphs and tables for ease of understanding. It was found that children exhibit low levels of both persuasive and emotional pestering, proving the relationship that family communication structure affects the kinds of influence strategies that children are likely to use. These family communication styles are associated with low levels of both persuasive and emotional pestering. In this sample, a consensual family communication style was most common, revealing that children belonging to consensual families use influencing strategies to get what they want and parents belonging to this family style are more open to accepting the views of their children. It was found that most of the participants agree to their children’s requests. Parents tend to agree more to food and snacks, clothes and shoes and grocery requests. As the most common pestering form was persuasive and the common parental response to this influencing strategy was to accept children’s requests, marketers should target both children and their parents in their communication strategies. Encouraging and endorsing a consensual family communication style would also make good business sense as children’s roles in family decision making are likely to be more accepted in families with this family communication style.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.