Are they listening to my voice?
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2002)) and the
United Nations (1997), a family is comprised of parents and children who live in the same
house, who are related, to a speciﬁed degree, through blood, adoption or marriage. Despite
that terminology, the voice of children, i.e. teenagers (as family members), in the family was
largely ignored. Many people believed that parents, as the leaders of the family, knew
everything and had a total say in purchasing household products, including electrical and
electronic products for their family’s consumption (Commuri and Gentry, 2000; Davis, 1976).
However, the trend has changed. Nowadays, teenagers play an important role in family
purchases. Their characteristics have even made them an attractive market segment for
marketers and advertisers. For example, teenagers spend a lot of their parents’ money
(Brazil, 1999; McLaughlin, 2000; Shoham and Dalakas, 2003). Also, Bansal (2004) and
Brazil (1999) discovered that teenagers are also said to exercise thrift and wisdom in
spending their money.
In fact, teenagers are also categorized as ‘‘hyper consumers’’ (Chaplin and John, 2005) who
are able to inﬂuence family purchases (Bansal, 2004; Spero and Stone, 2004) for certain
categories of household electrical and electronic products such as VCRs, DVDs, personal
computers, stereos, refrigerator, air conditioners, televisions and electrical appliances
(McLaughlin, 2000; Shoham and Dalakas, 2003) due to trust and the busy lifestyle of their
parents (Brazil, 1999).
In addition, teenagers are also said to be disloyal to certain brands (Taylor and Cosenza,
2002) and adaptable to the latest technology (Bansal, 2004; Becker, 2005; Johnson, 2006;
Wilska, 2003). Considering their product skills and knowledge, there is no doubt that parents
are depending on their teenagers’ decisions to purchase products for the family. Parents feel
that their older children have more experience and knowledge about products (Brazil, 1999;
Mangleburg, 1990). Parents also perceive that their teenagers have higher consumer skills,
are more rational, and can comprehend basic economic concepts (Brazil, 1999; Roedder,
1981) as compared to younger children below the teen age group. A study done by Ward
and Wackman (1972) found that children’s inﬂuence attempt decreased with age, but
parents’ yielding to the child’s requests increased with age, mainly due to the reason that
mothers trust the judgments made by their children as their children get older (Ward, 1974).
Teenagers: who are they?
Understanding teenagers’ behavior is very important. Yet, deﬁning the teenager segment is
very complicated, and thus previous researchers have come to the same conclusion of
deﬁning the teenager segment according to their age. For instance, in a study to understand
UK teenagers’ inﬂuence on family purchases, Chavda et al. (2005) grouped teenagers as
BUSINESS STRATEGY SERIES
VOL. 13 NO. 1 2012, pp. 54-59, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1751-5637 DOI 10.1108/17515631211194634
Amily Fikry is based at the
Faculty of Business
Teknologi Mara Malaysia,