Mumbai: It helped build large Indian brands in the 1980s and 1990s, including orange drink Rasna and milk food drink Complan. From the cartwheeling kid in yellow in the Sundrop oil ad to the “I’m a Complan boy!" tagline that made the milk food brand iconic, pester power has had a significant role to play in Indian advertising.

But ‘pester power’ – kids nagging their parents for products whose attractive advertising they see – is no more.

Market research firm Kantar IMRB found in their recently concluded third edition of the Kidscan study that children are increasingly on par with their parents in making consumer decisions for the family.

IMRB conducted the study with a sample of 2,500 children aged 5-14 across 3 socio-economic classes in over 1 million towns in India.

“Kids are really just pint-sized adults now," Hemant Mehta, Kantar IMRB’s managing director for media and chief strategy officer, said. “The child of 2017 is inundated with marketing messages and they are much more brand-literate than children before them."

Mehta said the biggest change Kidscan found among children in this age group was the role that technology played in informing them and shaping their opinions.

“We have moved away from pester power to seeing mutual respect in making decisions between the child and the parent", he said.

A large part of this change is how much access to technology kids have now. Some 55% of the children surveyed said they were given school assignments that needed internet access, while 26% said their school or project worked needed them to use a computer.

While this increased brand awareness may have raised the influence children wield in their families, it has had an opposite effect on pester power.

“The older ads of brands like Rasna and Buoy (Lifebuoy) soap relied on pester power to reach out to children," said Harish Bijoor, independent brand expert. “Over time, this turned into brat power," he said, adding that children starring in these ads were aggressive tools to inform kids about what was “cool" so they would feel compelled to nag their parents to buy it.

“But that does not work anymore, because parents now consult their kids on what to buy," Bijoor said. The Kidscan study said three out of 10 parents surveyed said they took their children’s opinion while buying a household consumer durable like a refrigerator.

Besides, Bijoor said, large brands do not want to use pester power because it is ethically looked down on. “It is now widely accepted that children should not be socially leveraged to advertise a product," he said. “This is an oath that most responsible advertisers have now taken."

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