The Impact of Product and Situational Factors on the Choice of Conflict Resolution Strategies By Children in Family Purchase Decision Making



Citation:

Melissa Johnson (1995) ,"The Impact of Product and Situational Factors on the Choice of Conflict Resolution Strategies By Children in Family Purchase Decision Making", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2, eds. Flemming Hansen, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 61-68.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2, 1995      Pages 61-68

THE IMPACT OF PRODUCT AND SITUATIONAL FACTORS ON THE CHOICE OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION STRATEGIES BY CHILDREN IN FAMILY PURCHASE DECISION MAKING

Melissa Johnson, University of Southern Queensland

[The author wishes to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of Janelle McPhail (University of Southern Queensland) as supervisor of the Honours Thesis from which this paper is derived.]

This study investigates the influence of product and situational factors on the behaviour of children in family purchase decision making. The importance of product and situational factors is highlighted through a review of past studies, and several hypotheses are developed from this investigation with regard to their impact on the behaviour of children in family purchase decision making conflict. The methodology used to test these relationships is detailed here and includes the use of a 3x3 full factorial design to represent different purchase decision making scenarios. The findings of the study show that both product and situational factors are important variables in determining the way children will behave in family purchase decision making, particularly with regard to their choice of conflict resolution strategies.

LITERATURE REVIEW

A review of family purchase decision making literature reveals that several barriers still exist to the advancement of our knowledge in this area. Firstly, the dyadic representation of only mothers and fathers in most previous research ignores the effect that children have on family purchase decision making. Secondly, the abstract measures of power and influence in family purchase decision making allows little real application of the findings from past empirical research to the description of actual family consumer behaviour. The resolution of purchase conflict represents one component of family purchase decision making which allows analysis of the broad conceptual process of family purchase decision making, including mothers, fathers and children, within a narrow behavioural framework.

Both family environment variables (such as parental style and communication patterns) and external factors have been proposed in the past, to influence family purchase decision making. However, little attempt has been made to justify and/or clarify product type and situation dimensions, particularly with regard to the behavioural manifestations of children in family purchase conflict.

The following study will attempt to build a theoretical and empirical basis for the inclusion of product type and situational factors as important influencing factors in family purchase decision making. The impact of these two variables is a sub-component of a larger model proposed by Johnson, McPhail & Yau (1994), which also includes family environment variables and the reciprocal interaction effect of the probability of successful resolution. The focus here will be to isolate the impact of product and situational factors, and allow for comprehensive discussion on the empirical testing of their impact on conflict resolution, as a family purchase decision making process.

Conflict In Family Purchase Decision Making - A Child's Choice Of Resolution Strategies

Past research on family purchase decision making processes has tended to focus on dyadic relationships, rather than interaction between mother, father and child. In addition, the concentration on measurement of "influence" of members in family decision making has resulted in findings which are abstract and unexplained in relation to their dependent state. This may largely be due to the attempts at analysing the family decision making process as a general concept, instead of the total of many component parts. One of these component processes is the resolution of conflict. Conflict resolution in family purchase decision making represents an interactive and behavioural process. Factors which may be expected to impact upon decision making in general could be more easily analysed by concentrating first on their relationship to specific behavioural processes. Conflict resolution has been identified as a process where mothers, fathers and children interact under the influence of family environment variables, and given certain product and situational factors.

The dependent variable in this study is the choice of one of five (5) conflict resolution strategies by children in family purchase decision making. The five-fold typology of resolution strategies on which the model is based, is an extended version of the typology proposed by Sheth (1974). Problem solving, persuasion, bargaining, and politics, were proposed by Sheth (1974) to be the four strategies which family members have available to them in order to resolve conflict. The additional strategy included in this study is that of conflict avoidance. Sheth's (1974) classification does not include this strategy, however using the four-fold classification accounts for only active resolution of conflict through some overt behaviours. Buss and Schaninger (1987) report that conflict can be managed in two (2) basic ways, by either avoidance (tactics to reduce conflict) or resolution (tactics to remove or resolve conflict). Using only Sheth's (1974) classification the tendency to merely reduce conflict through avoidance is ignored. The extended typology used here is an attempt to close the gap between inductively and deductively derived conflict resolution classifications. By broadening the theoretical classifications of conflict resolution strategies, a wider scope exists to account for all manifest conflict management behaviours, and therefore operationalise this variable.

Product Type

The product (or service) type, as a source of variation in children's influence has been a common factor in many studies (Darley and Lim 1986 Foxman, Tansuhaj and Ekstrom 1980, Jenkins 1979, Mehrotra and Torges 1977, Moschis and Mitchell 1986 , Roberts, Wortzel, and Berkley 1981, Szybillo and Sosanie 1977). In all these studies however, the reason for the product factors being significant was not realised, and in most cases was attributed to differences in financial outlay, rather than desire of involvement. The findings of these studies did in general conclude that children have more influence in decisions for products such as cereals, toys and clothes, less influence for products and services such as holidays and restaurant and movie attendance, and little influence in decisions regarding furniture and car purchase. It must be assumed here that the measure of influence can be characterised by some behavioural activity. The differences in influence for these products is most likely attributable to the child's corresponding level of product involvement for each product type. According to Mangleburg (1990) it is likely that children perceive products such as furniture for example, as having low personal relevance, and therefore are not motivated to actively participate in these decisions.

Sheth's (1974) classification of product types according to personal relevance and consumption, further explain the differences found in past studies. He divided products in family purchase decision making into three categories, those for (1) consumption by the individual, (2) consumption by the family jointly, (3) consumption by the household unit. The purchase decision behaviours of family members, including children, may therefore be attributed in part to the product being decided upon and the level of subsequent involvement desired by members.

Product type features as a common source of variation in children's influence in family decision making literature. Studies by Ekstrom, Tansuhaj and Foxman (1987), Isler, Popper and Ward (1987), Darley and Lim (1986), Jenkins (1979), Mehrotra and Torges (1977), and Roberts, Wortzel and Berkely (1981), all found evidence to suggest that the influence of children in family decision making varies according to the type of product involved. As the choice of a conflict resolution strategy is offered here as an operationalised measure of "influence", it is reasonable to conclude that product type may be an important variable in explaining the differences in strategy choice by children. Isler, Popper and Ward (1987) closely illustrate this relationship by recognising product category as an influence on children's purchase requests and parental responses. In a similar way this study recognises product type as an influencing factor on the choice of a conflict resolution strategy by children, and the subsequent degree of success of that strategy.

While past studies have been diligent in including product type as a source of variance, the organisation of products into types has been ad hoc. Rather than identifying a theoretical base on which to type products, past studies have operationalised variance in products according to price range, frequency of purchase, and/or the extent of problem solving involved. The deficiency in representing product type as a variable in this way is that the child's involvement in the decision is often distorted and ensured, and therefore not truly representative of a cross-section of "family" purchase decision making.

Three differing product types, based on Sheth's (1974) divisions according to consumption, are represented in this study. These include: (1) products for the child's own use, (2) products for family use, and (3) products for household use. It is believed that this classification of products will allow for inclusion of a range of products that differ according to price, importance, and relevance (and perhaps therefore motivation), to the child. Based on the findings of past studies it is proposed that product type may account for some variance in the conflict behaviour of children in family purchase decision making. The hypothesised relationship between product type and the child's choice of a resolution strategy is:

H1= The conflict resolution strategy chosen by the child is significantly dependent on the type of product for which a decision is being made.

Situational Factors

Situational factors are an important intervening variable between the relatively constant family framework and purchase decision behaviour.

In order to account for situational factors it is first necessary to distinguish them from personal or product factors. Belk's (1974) definition of "situation" is useful in this respect, where situation is defined as:

"all those factors particular to a time and place of observation which do not follow from a knowledge of personal and stimulus attributes which have a demonstratable and systematic effect on current behaviour" (1974, p.157).

Lutz and Kakkar (1975) expanded on Belk's (1974) definition to include the effects of situation on an individual's psychological processes and overt behaviour. Further distinction of situational variables can be made according to the type of situation being either purchase situation, communication situation, or usage situation.

For the purpose of examining the behavioural interaction of the family purchase decision making process, the purchase situation will be considered as most important here. To a large extent the usage and communication situations in the process are dominated by family communication patterns, and the consumption type (family use, own use, household use) of the product.

The purchase situation can be classified as having five (5) characteristics; physical surroundings, social surroundings, time, task definition, and antecedent state (Mowen, 1990, p.536). The physical surroundings are the concrete physical and spatial aspects of the environment encompassing a consumer activity. Social surroundings refers simply to who is present at the time of purchase or purchase decision. Task definition is the reason that occasions the need for consumption. Time can effect the activity through either its presence of absence, and antecedent states are the temporary physiological states and moods that the consumer brings to the consumption activity.

While situation it is not a factor which could be expected to predict the behaviours of family members in decision processes on its own, it is undoubtedly an intervening, dynamic and temporary variance on behavioural processes, such as the resolution of conflict. Situational variance is particularly important in family purchase decision making research given that family environment variables such as family communication patterns and parental style both regulate, prescribe, or condone, different behaviours from children under differing situational circumstances. This is particularly true with regards to where family decision making takes place and who else is present. Family purchase conflict is assumed to be even more sensitive to the effects of situational factors.

Explicit recognition of situational variables can substantially enhance the ability to explain and understand consumer behavioural acts (Belk, 1975). In order to avoid a static representation of family purchase decision making, situational factors have been acknowledged as a potentially dynamic influence in this model of conflict resolution strategy choice. The inclusion of situational factors as a source of variance is well supported, with McCarthy (1977) for example, recognising that it is not only the complexity and nature of the issue and the characteristics of the participants, but also the structure of the situation which determines the course of conflict resolution.

Consumer situations are relatively short-term events or happenings and should be distinguished from the macro environmental and personal factors that have a longer-lasting quality. However, few studies with regard to family purchase decision making conflict have given any consideration to the effects of situational factors. Two studies which have included analysis of situational factors are those of Burns and De Vere (1981), and Isler, Popper and Ward (1987). Burns and De Vere's (1981) study concentrated on the effects of situation on husband and wife purchase decision making. Results of their study indicated that husband and wife purchase decision making was quite sensitive to context, particularly the situational characteristics of physical and social surroundings. Isler, Popper and Ward (1987) in their investigation of children's purchase requests and parental responses, found that request location and the presence of others actually affected the behaviour of children. The physical surrounding characteristic in this study was represented by whether or not the parent-child interaction occurred at home, or while shopping. With specific regard to conflict, Buss and Schaninger (1987), state that decision processes are idiosyncratic to each decision situation and it is these situations which give rise to potential conflict and conflict management.

Based on previous studies as outlined here, the situation characteristics chosen to be included are physical surroundings (where the conflict occurs) and social surroundings (who is present when the conflict occurs). Clearly it would be ideal to build situation scenarios that account for all five situation characteristics, in order to examine the sensitivity of context, however it is believed that these two factors represent significant variance to test the overall effects of situation. The relationship proposed to exist between situational factors and the child's choice of a resolution strategy is:

H2= The conflict resolution strategy chosen by the child is significantly dependent on situational factors.

METHODOLOGY

The survey method was the major design used in this research. The complexity of the factors being tested in the model required that an extensive program of exploratory research be carried out, to develop the questionnaire test instrument. Two different, interactive questionnaires were finally developed, one for mothers and fathers, and one for the child.

A 3 x 3 full factorial design, based on different product/situation scenarios, meant that nine different versions of the questionnaires had to be developed, for both parents and children.

The convenience sampling design allowed the flexibility to include children aged between ten to twelve years, and their two parents, by using grade six and seven primary school students as a sampling frame. A total of 396 children, from four public and four private schools in Toowoomba, and their parents, returned useable questionnaires. This constituted a response rate of 56.4%, which also satisfied the minimum statistical response required for each of the nine questionnaires. Sampling mothers, fathers, and children was a primary objective in the empirical phase of this study in order to overcome the bias in previous research which has focused largely on the dyadic interaction of mothers and fathers, or mothers and children.

SELECTION OF PRODUCT AND SITUATION DIMENSIONS

Product Selection

Past studies on family purchase decision making have included testing of many and varied types of products. Those products tested which can be considered to be for the child's own use include children's clothing, snack foods, toys, records, magazines, and school supplies (Mehrotra and Torges 1977 Roberts, Wortzel and Berkely 1981 Moschis and Mitchell 1986 Isler, Popper and Ward 1987 Foxman and Tansuhaj 1988). Products and services for family use have also been considered in previous research, particularly vacations, cars, restaurant outings, cereal, toothpaste, and sporting equipment (Szybillo and Sosanie 1977 Atkin 1978 Jenkins 1979 Nelson 1979 Belch, Belch and Sciglimpaglia 1980 Darley and Lim 1986 Isler, Popper and Ward 1987 Foxman and Tansuhaj 1988). In the category of products for household use only furniture, computers, and small appliances have been previously considered (Jenkins 1979 Belch, Belch and Sciglimpaglia 1980 Moschis and Mitchell 1986 Foxman and Tansuhaj 1988).

The findings from these previous studies show that children have varying degrees of influence on decision making for all these products and services. The inconclusive and general nature of these results made it necessary to carry out some primary research to narrow the range of products, and ensure selection of products which children aged 10 to 12 years are involved in and over which disagreement is common.

A focus group conducted with six mothers of children in this age group identified several products which children sought to become involved in the decision to purchase. Shoes, as a product for the child's own use, were identified as a source of much discussion and often conflict. Other products and services identified in the focus group were used later to clarify findings of both the children's and parent's exploratory surveys. The children's exploratory survey was administered to a total of forty-five boys and girls aged between 10 and 12 years. The survey included an open ended question where children were asked to list a product that they really wanted and also how they would go about convincing their parents to buy it for them. Responses to this question resulted in a large number of products in the "child's own use" category with the five most frequently listed products being:

Motor Bike (4)

Tennis racquet (5)

Clothes (7)

Shoes (13)

Sega Mega System (15)

While the Sega Game system was the most popular listing, it was the choice of boys only. The most common product listed by both boys and girls was shoes.

In the parent's exploratory survey respondents were asked to indicate from a list of products and services, which ones their children were likely to be , or had been, involved in the decision to purchase. Results from this question are shown in Table 1 where the eight most frequently listed products and services are shown. Respondents considered not only that children would be involved in the decision to buy these products and services but that disagreement over the purchase had or would occur. Based on findings from the focus group, and both the parent's and children's exploratory surveys, shoes were chosen as a representative product for the category of products for the child's own use.

The choice of a restaurant was selected in the category of family use based on the results of the parent's exploratory survey, and also on the findings of previous studies. Research by Nelson (1979), and Szybillo and Sosanie (1977) in particular shows that children are significantly involved in the family decision on eating out.

The final product category is that of household use for which a personal computer was chosen. Previous studies have shown that other products in this category such as furniture and automobiles, are of little personal interest to children (Foxman and Tansuhaj 1988, Moschis and Mitchell 1986), and that their involvement is correspondingly low. Personal computers were listed by some children in the child's exploratory survey, and were the highest rating disputed product in their category in the parent's exploratory questionnaire. The rising pressure on children to become computer literate, and the increasing contact they have with computers at school, was also assumed to make this product a likely topic of debate in many families.

Situational Dimension Selection

Testing the choice of a resolution strategy in purchase decision conflict for each of these three products and services was done by building purchase decision scenarios for each one. To elicit responses towards each product that represented actual behaviours it was necessary to include situational factors in these scenarios. Results of past studies (Isler, Popper and Ward 1987 Burns and De Vere 1981), indicate that the behaviour of family members in purchase decision making is quite sensitive to context. In order to allow differentiation of the effects of both product type and situational factors a 3 x 3 full factorial design of scenarios was used. This involved using nine scenarios where each of three situations was applied to the three different product types.

TABLE 1

RESULTS OF PARENT'S EXPLORATORY SURVEY: MOST FREQUENT LISTINGS OF PRODUCTS WHICH CHILDREN ARE INVOLVED IN AND OVER WHICH DISPUTE IS COMMON

The choice of situational factors was confined to physical and social situation dimensions. This decision was based on the testing of the relevance of several situational dimensions in the child's exploratory survey. The test survey included a list of situational factors, which were derived from focus group discussions. From this list children where asked to indicate which situation represented the best time to try and convince their parents to buy them something. The objective of this question was to identify situational factors which were obvious and relevant to children, and which when included in a scenario would evoke noticeable behavioural considerations.

Results from this question showed that children are less sensitive to time dimensions than they are to social and physical surroundings. The intangibility of time as a situational factor may be too subtle for children to comprehend or recognise in a scenario question, and for this reason was excluded. Four physical and social situation dimensions were identified from the survey as being relevant and important to children in the way they behave in family purchase decision making. These situational factors included two social dimensions with 75% of respondents indicating that the presence (or not) of their brothers and sisters would have an effect, and 44% indicating that the presence of friends would have an effect. Two physical situation dimensions were also identified with 69% of respondents recognising that being at the shops impacted upon their behaviour, and 53% recognising similarly that being at home impacted upon behaviour. The percentages given here are proportion of the total of 45 child respondents of the exploratory survey. Using these four dimensions, three different situation scenarios were developed including:

1. At home with parents and brothers and sisters

2. At the shops with parents but without brothers and sisters

3. At home with parents/family and the child's friends to stay

When each of these three situations was applied to the three product types, a 3x3 full factorial design of nine different scenarios was created. This factorial matrix can be seen in Figure 1. Due to the complexity of this design in requiring responses to nine separate scenarios, the issues of questionnaire length and children's comprehension ability needed to be addressed. It was concluded that neither children nor their parents would sustain adequate attention to a questionnaire which included all nine scenarios. Therefore, nine different questionnaires were developed for both parents and children, using the same 3 x 3 factorial design for both groups of respondents.

RESEARCH FINDINGS

Product Type

A crosstabulation of the three product types, with the choice of a resolution strategy by the child, can be seen in Table 2.

The crosstabulation shows that bargaining and conflict avoidance were the most frequently used strategies when the purchase decision was for shoes for the child's own use. Conflict avoidance was clearly the most commonly used strategy in decisions on products for family use, with almost half of the child respondent's choosing this strategy when conflict was over where to dine out. For a computer, as a product for "home use", over 40% of children chose problem solving as the preferred conflict resolution strategy.

A chi-square test revealed that a significant relationship does exist (p<.01) between product type, and the choice of a resolution strategy by the child. Based on these findings hypothesis one is accepted.

Results of this study show that a significant relationship exists between a child's choice of a resolution strategy, and the type of product over which conflict occurs.

The three basic product types represented here include products for the "child's own use", "family use", and "home use". Previous studies have concentrated on measuring variations in the amount of influence that children have in decisions for each of these product types, rather than any behavioural differences. Studies by Jenkins (1979), and Foxman, Tansuhaj, and Ekstrom (1989) for example, found that children have most influence in decisions for products for their own use, and for family use, and least influence in products for home use. Mangleburg (1990) attributes this common finding to the level of the child's product involvement. She considers it likely that children perceive products for home use as having low personal relevance, and they are therefore not motivated to influence these decisions. A central point of discussion in focus groups, during the exploratory phase of this study, was the perception of mother's that children aged between ten and twelve years are very "me" oriented, and are often concerned only with decisions that directly and obviously affect them. It may be reasonable to expect then, that the centrality of the conflict issue to the child in family purchase decision making, regulates their behaviour in trying to exert this influence.

FIGURE 1

PRODUCT/SITUATION SCENARIOS

Results of this study show that bargaining was the most common strategy chosen by children when conflict was over a product for their own use. While conflict avoidance was most common for family use products. A personal computer was used in the scenario for a home use product, and problem solving was found to be the most frequent strategy choice in this category. These findings are similar to those of Belch, Belch, and Sciglimpaglia (1980), who reported that problem solving was the most common strategy perceived to be used in purchase conflict over home use products. However in their study, problem solving was common across all product types. This may be the result of their limited classification of resolution strategies into only problem solving, bargaining, or persuasion.

The "home use" category revealed several interesting differences from previous research. Qualls and Jaffe (1992) for instance, investigated conflict in household decision behaviour using only husbands and wives, and found that bargaining was the most likely strategy to be used in decisions important to the household. Whereas bargaining appears to be common in dyadic exchanges, problem solving may be more frequent in triadic interactions between mother, father, and child. This point highlights the disadvantages of assuming that the behaviours and interactions of only mothers and fathers are representative of actual family decision processes.

There are several possible reasons for the relationship between product type and a child's choice of a purchase conflict resolution strategy. One reason has already been suggested here, that of the child's motivation to be involved in the purchase decision. It is also possible that children are more confident in conflict negotiations about products they will be using for themselves, or are more familiar with. Applying this proposition to the results of the study, it could be that a child's confidence may be low in choosing a restaurant, and they are therefore more likely to choose conflict avoidance as a resolution strategy. However when conflict occurs over shoes for themselves, children seem to have the desire and confidence to actively bargain with their parents. Another reason for the significant relationship between product type and children's behaviour in purchase decision making, may be the risk or cost factor associated with the product. This reasoning is also considered likely by Mangleburg (1990). Problem solving for example seems a logical resolution choice for a "home use" computer, it may also have more appeal as "home use" products usually require major asset decisions. The increased risk and cost factors associated with family and home use products may be more demanding of rationality in purchase conflict behaviour.

TABLE 2

CROSSTABULATION OF PRODUCT TYPE WITH THE CHILD'S CHOICE OF A RESOLUTION STRATEGY

What can be concluded from these findings is that product type is an important variable in determining the way children will behave in family purchase decision making.

Situational Factors

The crosstabulation, shown in Table 3, reveals that the child's choice of a resolution strategy is similar across the three different situations. Conflict avoidance is the child's most common choice when purchase decision conflict occurs in a public setting, while conflict avoidance and problem solving are the most frequent choice in private or social situations. It may be that the limited number of situational dimensions incorporated in this research were too subtle to detect any specific patterns between the choice of the five resolution strategies in different situations. However hypothesis two can be accepted, as the child's choice of a resolution strategy was seen to vary significantly (p<0.10) dependent on situational factors.

The significance of situational factors in a child's choice of a resolution strategy is an important finding in this research. Past studies on family purchase decision making have not adequately addressed the issue of situational context. In general, those studies which have included children have not utilised situational variables at all (Mangleburg, 1990). The lack of attention given to situational factors may be one of the reasons why past studies provide relatively abstract measures of influence, rather than being able to give an insight into actual behaviours of family members in purchase decision making. The inclusion of situational scenarios in this study was an attempt to reduce the uncertainty with which respondents could describe their likely purchase decision behaviour, by providing them with a contextual reference.

The two main situational factors tested in this study were physical and social surroundings. It appears that children's behaviour is partially dependent upon where they are, and who they are with, when purchase conflict occurs. The importance of social circumstance found by Burns and De Vere (1981) is therefore confirmed by this research. A stronger relationship may have been found had the situational scenarios been able to encompass all situational factors, and had the test instrument allowed the presentation of a stronger stimulus. However, the importance of situational context in the prediction of likely consumer behaviour, would seem to be supported in this study, and worthy of further investigation in the future. The results of the research show that conflict avoidance and problem solving are used most frequently across all the situations here. However the limited number of situational dimensions tested in this study may have reduced the ability to identify specific relationships between the choice of each resolution strategy and situational characteristics.

The interaction of product type and situational factors is also a concept which warrants further analysis. Despite the fact that a two way ANOVA in this study failed to identify a significant interaction effect between product type and situational factors, the potential aggregate effect of these two factors deserves further investigation. Dickson (1982) suggests that marketers would benefit from using a person-situation framework as a common higher order basis, under which the overall synergy of marketing activities can be analysed. Similarly, a product-situation framework represents a common higher order, under which other family consumer behaviour variables can be analysed. Clearly, the significance of both product type and situational factors, and the integrated effects of these variables, is such that they should be defined in family consumer research so as to isolate the effects of family characteristic and process variables.

SUMMARY

Product type was found to be an important variable in determining the way children will behave in family purchase decision making. Children were found to most often choose bargaining tactics in purchase decision making for products for their own use, conflict avoidance for family use products, and problem solving for home use products. The only point of comparison of these findings was with previous studies on family purchase decision making which included only husbands and wives (Qualls and Jaffe 1992). The results of this study did not support the findings of previous dyadic (husband and wife) research, which highlights the disadvantage of assuming that the behaviours and relationship of mothers and fathers only, are representative of actual family decision processes.

Situational factors were included in this research as an essential element of the behavioural environment. A significant relationship was found to exist between the situation in which the family purchase decision making occurred, and the choice of a resolution strategy by the child. Only two situational dimensions were incorporated in the study, including physical and social surroundings. The significance of situational factors found to exist based on only these two dimensions, would suggest that situational context should be included in any future research which focuses on the understanding of family consumer behaviour. No significant interaction effect was identified between product type and situation on the choice of a resolution strategy. However it is believed that more comprehensive testing of situational factors would highlight a significant aggregate influence of product type and situational factors on the child's choice of a resolution strategy.

TABLE 3

CROSSTABULATION OF SITUATION SCENARIOS AND THE CHILD'S CHOICE OF A RESOLUTION STRATEGY

LIMITATIONS

Data was collected for this research using a convenience sampling method. However measures were taken to ensure an even distribution of respondents between both public and private schools, gender, and across the geographic regions of the city in which the research was conducted.

The external validity of the research may be criticised on the basis of the experimental 3x3 factorial design. It is conceivable that both parents and children require stronger stimulus than the written scenarios in this study. The use of more controlled and inclusive techniques, to stimulate the purchase decision environment, were beyond the resources of this study. The use of written scenarios however, is a viable compromise to more expensive methods, and to those alternatives which are more difficult to physically control (Bonfield, 1981).

IMPLICATIONS FOR MARKETERS & DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH

Product type was found to be a significant factor in both the behaviour of children in family purchase decision making, and the likely outcome of the family decision process. It is therefore vital that marketers wishing to penetrate family and /or youth markets, understand the type of product they are offering, and consequently who is likely to be involved in the purchase decision process, and what other variables may impact upon that process. The significance of situational factors in determining children's behaviour and the likely outcome of family purchase decision making, is especially important in conjunction with product type. The use of a framework that cross-tabulates family characteristics and behavioural outcomes, with product types and family purchase decision situational variables, would produce a much richer description and understanding of family target markets.

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Authors

Melissa Johnson, University of Southern Queensland



Volume

E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2 | 1995



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