International food advertising, pester power and its effects

McDermott, Laura; O'Sullivan, Terry; Stead, Martine and Hastings, Gerard (2006). International food advertising, pester power and its effects. International Journal of Advertising, 25(4) pp. 513–539.




The increasing importance of children as consumers has focused attention on 'pester power': children's influence over adult purchasing through requests and demands for certain products. Many concerns are expressed about pester power, including that it increases parent--child conflict. In the contested area of food marketing, an additional and particularly potent criticism of pester power is that it can undermine parents' attempts to feed their children a healthy diet. Results from a systematic review of international evidence find that food advertising does cause 'pestering' by children and results in parents buying less healthy products that are associated with obesity. This undermines industry arguments that pester power is just a legitimate way for children to express their growing autonomy as consumers. Policy implications for marketers and government are discussed.

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