The Power of Pester: How Children Influence Purchases in Toy and Food Shopping


Children have a unique power known as “pester power,” which refers to their ability to influence the purchasing decisions of their parents. This phenomenon has a significant impact on both toy and food shopping, as companies strive to appeal to children’s preferences while also ensuring that parents feel reassured about the products they purchase. Moreover, packaging plays a crucial role in this dynamic, serving as a means to capture a child’s attention while addressing parental concerns.

The Influence of Pester Power:

Pester power is a well-known tactic employed by children to convince their parents to buy them toys or food items they desire. It is a blend of persistence, enthusiasm, and an understanding of how to appeal to their parents’ emotions. Children are skilled at leveraging their cuteness, excitement, and heartfelt requests to sway parental decision-making, making it difficult for parents to resist their charm.

In the realm of toy shopping, pester power plays a central role. Advertisements, both on television and online platforms, are designed to captivate children’s attention, highlighting the latest and most popular toys. These advertisements often feature catchy jingles, vibrant visuals, and charismatic characters that effortlessly appeal to children’s desires. As a result, children become determined to possess the toys they see advertised, relentlessly pestering their parents until they give in.

Food shopping is another arena where pester power can have a significant impact. Children are naturally drawn to colourful packaging, playful mascots, and familiar characters. Food companies recognize this and invest heavily in designing packaging that appeals to children. Brightly coloured boxes, cartoon characters, and interactive elements create a sense of excitement and entice children to request specific food products. The influence of pester power in food shopping can lead to the purchase of sugary snacks and unhealthy food options, potentially affecting children’s dietary habits.

Packaging’s Dual Role:

Packaging is a critical aspect of pester power dynamics, as it must simultaneously appeal to children’s preferences while addressing parental concerns. For toys, packaging often includes eye-catching visuals, engaging illustrations, and bold claims that highlight the toy’s features and benefits. By creating an emotional connection with children, the packaging serves as a gateway to pester power.

However, packaging also plays an important role in reassuring parents. Responsible companies ensure that their packaging prominently displays age appropriateness, safety certifications, and educational benefits. Clear labelling helps parents make informed decisions, assuring them that the product aligns with their child’s developmental stage and adheres to safety standards. Packaging acts as a bridge between a child’s desires and a parent’s need for reassurance, striking a delicate balance.


Pester power is a force to be reckoned with, influencing the purchasing decisions of parents in both toy and food shopping. Children’s unwavering determination, coupled with enticing advertising and packaging, often leads to successful persuasion. Toy companies tap into children’s desires through captivating advertisements, while food companies employ colourful packaging to attract young consumers.

The role of packaging in this dynamic is multi-faceted, serving the purpose of capturing a child’s attention while addressing parental concerns. Packaging needs to strike a careful balance between appealing to children’s preferences and providing parents with essential information about the product’s safety and suitability.

Understanding and navigating the power of pester is essential for both parents and companies. Parents should be mindful of their children’s desires and make informed choices that prioritize their well-being. Meanwhile, companies should adopt responsible marketing strategies and packaging designs that cater to children’s preferences without compromising on safety and nutritional standards.

By recognizing the influence of pester power and fostering a healthy consumer environment, we can ensure that children’s desires are met while also addressing parents’ concerns, ultimately leading to a harmonious shopping.

Wow Me Design is the Cheltenham-based packaging design agency, with proven track record of delivering impactful, exciting and effective packaging for both toy and food brands. Take a look at examples of how we’ve created engaging packaging for both our food and toy clients.

Kerry Foods’ Stings & Things cheese snacks

Wilko’s Halloween fancy dress & party accessories

ELC’s developmental toys

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