US: Measuring kids’ influence on parents’ purchase decisions
May 11th, 2023, Hoang Nguyen

US: Measuring kids’ influence on parents’ purchase decisions

Children can play an important role in household shopping decisions, according to research from YouGov.

In a new poll across more than 900 American parents of children aged 18 and under, more than half say their kids are very or somewhat influential in purchase categories such as eating out and takeout, groceries, events/outings, vacation destinations, technology/electronics, and entertainment.

But what does this mean for brands and retailers? We take a closer look at some insights from the survey and our audience intelligence platform, YouGov Profiles, to explore why marketers should consider families as a whole and not just those footing the bill.

Eating out

Across the categories we asked about in the survey, kids are most likely to influence where and what a family eats. Seven in 10 (71%) of parents of underage children say their kids are very or somewhat influential in choosing where to eat out or get takeout.

We dig even deeper with data from Profiles to find that parents who are influenced by their kids when it comes to eating out are significantly more likely to be eating out more frequently than the average US consumer. A quarter of this audience (25%) say they eat out once a day or more often (vs. 8% of US adults).

As for where they’re eating, parents of children who influence their eating out decisions are most likely to be considering fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s (43%), Wendy’s (42%), Chick-fil-A, Subway (32%) and Burger King (31%).


Grocery products are another area where kids can have tremendous sway over their parents. More than two-thirds of parents with underage children say their kids are influential in choosing what groceries products to buy (69%).

Data from YouGov Profiles again reveals some interesting differences between parents who are influenced by their kids when it comes to groceries and the general US population. Many of these come in the form of their attitudes toward food and drink. Here are a few of these key differences:

  • They like to plan a weekly grocery shopping trip, and many prefer to shop on Saturday.
  • They like to try new drinks, recipes and cuisines.
  • They don’t mind paying more for organic foods.
  • They sometimes feel guilty about consuming meat and dairy products, and many are considering reducing their consumption of these foods.

Vacations and destinations

Planning family vacations is another area where parents consider their children’s input, interests and preferences. According to YouGov’s latest poll, 61% of parents of underage children say their kids are very or somewhat influential in their decision to book a vacation destination.

Families with young children may choose a destination with kid-friendly activities, such as amusement parks and beaches while those with teenagers may choose a destination with more adventurous activities, such as hiking or water sports.

Technology and entertainment

Children often have a strong influence on their parents' technology and electronics purchases. For example, kids may request the latest video game console or a new smartphone when they reach a certain age. In the case of technology and electronics, over half of parents say their kids are influential in these purchase decisions.

Similarly, kids also play a powerful role in parents’ decisions to go to events/outings (65%) and the books/music (59%) they buy.

Lastly, children can have a strong influence over their parents' choice of streaming services (55%). In a recent YouGov analysis, we looked at how children’s content factors into parents’ decision to subscribe to a streaming platform.

The relationship between parents and children is clearly a two-way street, especially when it comes to household purchases. It’s obvious from the research (and wide-ranging anecdotal evidence!) that children play a significant role in their parents’ shopping decisions in a variety of areas, particularly groceries, eating out, entertainment and travel.

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Thiago Cerqueira on Unsplash