The ’rents are alright: Over half (58%) of UK children say their parents are their best friends

July 15, 2015
  • 40% of parents say they are closer to their child than their parents were to them
  • 89% of parents were asked by their children to buy them something when they went shopping together
  • 77% of children and teens aged 10-15 remember seeing or hearing advertising in the week prior to being questioned

With the summer holidays just beginning, new research from Mintel finds that the strong bond between UK parents and their children is strengthening the impact of pester power. Today, over half (58%) of UK children aged 7-15 say their parents are their best friends and two in five (40%) parents say they are closer to their child than their parents were to them, rising to 47% of parents over the age of 45. And with just a third (32%) of children claiming their parents are very strict, it seems that the strong relationship parents have with their kids are causing them to give in to their offspring’s shopping list of demands.

Indeed, despite the fact that just 16% of parents claim that they find it difficult to say ‘no’ to their child when they ask them to buy them something, of those that shop with their children, 79% have purchased a snack for their child when asked. A further 77% purchased a beauty or toiletry product, 69% purchased sweets and the same proportion (69%) a book.

Ina Mitskavets, Senior Consumer and Lifestyles Analyst at Mintel, said:

“The greater degree of inclusivity in modern British families is marked by the high proportion of children who view themselves as being very close to their mum and dad. Such closeness, however, also manifests itself as a greater degree of influence children and teens have over their families’ purchases and activities. Most children ask their mum and dad to buy them something when they shop together, and most parents oblige, despite the fact that they tend to view themselves as being fairly strict. With lines between childhood and adulthood continuing to blur, mums and dads could be found watching the same TV shows, listening to the same music and even wearing the same brands of clothing as their kids. It is therefore easy to see how today’s children’s influence and preferences could infiltrate the rest of the family.”

Indeed, over a period of a month, Mintel found 89% of parents were asked by their children to buy them something when they went shopping together. Of the remaining 11%, just 4% were not asked to buy anything for their child and 7% did not go shopping with their child during this period. Topping the list of children’s demands were snacks, with 56% of parents saying their child asked for a snack, while 55% asked for sweets and 38% asked for an item of clothing.

And it seems there are preferences of what to ask for from each parent. In the same four week period, 37% of dads were asked by their child to buy them a video game, compared to 26% of mums, while 42% of mums were asked by their child to buy an item of clothing, compared to 32% of dads.

What is more, Mintel’s research shows that when parents buy items for their children, their opinion matters. Out of all items, parents are the most likely to ask for the opinion of their child when buying clothing or shoes for them, with 47% doing so most of the time. In addition, one in 10 (11%) parents say they ask for their children’s opinion on clothing and shoes when they buy it for themselves most of the time.

Further showing the strong bond between parents and their offspring, when it comes to children and teens choosing new items to buy it seems parents know best. Over half (56%) of Brits aged 7-15 would ask their parents when choosing a new electronic gadget, compared to just a third (36%) who would ask their friends. Additionally, 42% would ask their parents when choosing a treat or snack, compared to 22% who’d ask their friends. However, when it comes to fun, the opinions of friends are the most valued, 41% ask for their friend’s thoughts when choosing a new toy or game, compared to 26% who ask their parents.

“Modern families are an inclusive environment in which many items are shared. Parents therefore ask for children’s preferences and often and encourage and empower them to be more independent. Indeed, Mintel data shows that kids’ and teens’ influence in British families stretches much further and children’s opinions have a bearing on decisions regarding many purchases not just for themselves, but for the whole family.” Ina continues.

Moreover, the power of advertising is still evident. Three quarters (77%) of children and teens aged 10-15 remember seeing or hearing advertising in the week prior to being questioned. By a large majority, the top place children and teens remember seeing it is on TV (67%), while 29% remember seeing it on the internet (but not on a social network) and 26% on a social network.

And it seems kids and teens do have a strong appetite for new products with three in four (73%) saying the like trying out new food and drink products.

“This generation of children has grown up with multiple screens and their entire childhood has been marked by easy and fast access to apps, information, ideas as well as adverts and new products. Today’s kids, as no other generation before them, demand constant transformation to hold their attention. However, the strong desire to try out new things could prove to be a double-edged sword; children would be more prone to impulse buying and less likely to make educated purchasing decisions in their quest for novelty or the ‘wow’ factor that would impress their friends.” Ina concludes.

Finally, Mintel’s research shows that parents spend more freely on only children. Just a quarter (24%) of parents with one child say they usually only buy presents for their child on special occasions, compared to 33% of parent with 3 children. What’s more, 29% of parents with one child say they try to wait until the sales to buy things their child wants, compared to 39% of those with 3 children.

Press review copies of the Children’s and Teens as Influencers UK 2015 report and interviews with Senior Consumer and Lifestyles Analyst, Ina Mitskavets, are available on request from the press office.

Mintel News

For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel’s team of global category analysts.

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