Teens age 12-17 have an overwhelming influence on their parents’ purchasing decisions, according to a study by YouGov. These include household product decisions: 75 percent of parents’ apparel choices, 78 percent of home entertainment content and 63 percent of cleaning supplies purchases are influenced by the teenager. Even more influential, 95 percent of teens influence which fast food restaurant to eat at, 93 percent make recreational entertainment choices and 90 percent choose which apparel stores for the family to shop in.
These numbers tell us that not only do teenagers have major influence on their parents’ buying decisions, but teens also exhibit strong brand loyalty toward the products they want their parents to buy. Most teenagers aren’t old enough to be making runs to the grocery store and deciding on home entertainment systems for their own home, so when does this brand loyalty start?
American children identify brands as early as 24 months, according to AdWeek. Toddlers are even able to make connections between brands and how they reflect their personalities. By the time kids enter first grade, most have one brand they favor in each major product category they consume. Children are attracted to products that are fun, colorful and engaging. They remember how fun it is to get a Push-Pop from the ice cream truck, open a new Lunchable or see Ronald McDonald walking around McDonald’s.
Research shows exposure to certain ads during childhood leads to bias toward those products in adulthood. Childhood nostalgia helps build brand loyalty. In a study conducted by the Journal of Consumer Research, adults were asked to determine the healthiness of various products. Some of the products were heavily advertised during their childhood years. Results indicated participants were more likely to show positive feedback when exposed to brands advertising with cartoon characters from before the participant was age thirteen. These participants who showed positive feelings toward the particular products exhibited a resistance to any change of mind or trying a different product.
The earlier an affection toward a brand begins, the longer brand loyalty stays. Childhood interest in a brand can result in a lifelong relationship. Teenagers who are influencing what their parents buy will likely favor the same restaurants, activities and products through into their adulthood. Needs, wants and styles change in various stages of life. However, when it comes to products that follow consumers at every age—like food, hygiene products and restaurants—the early brand gets the worm.