Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Parental Perspectives on Booster Seat Usage: Do Moms and Dads Share Common Ground?

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Parental Perspectives on Booster Seat Usage: Do Moms and Dads Share Common Ground?

Article excerpt


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2008, the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 13,250 lives. Furthermore, using booster seats versus adult seat belts alone lowers the risk of children being injured in crashes by 59 percent. The number-one cause of serious injuries and deaths in children ages two to sixteen is related to automobile accidents and the lack or improper use of child-restraint systems or seatbelts (

The Ollie Otter Booster Seat and Seat Belt Safety Program was developed by the Tennessee Road Builders Association and Tennessee Tech University (TTU) as an experimental solution to a serious problem: lack of booster seat and seatbelt education for youth at the critical age when good safety habits are formed. Ollie Otter, the spokes character for the Seat and Safety Program in Tennessee, seeks to be a role model for children regarding booster seat and seatbelt use. Choosing to use seatbelts and booster seats involves the following steps: recognizing the need for a booster seat or seatbelt, searching for more information on booster seats or seatbelts, evaluating the different alternatives for booster seats or seatbelts, and ultimately either purchasing a booster seat or using the seatbelt already in the vehicle. Therefore, to increase booster seat and seatbelt use, safety programs, such as Ollie Otter's, need information on who influences the decision making process within the family.

Using survey information from parents whose children were part of an Ollie Otter Program presentation in Tennessee elementary schools, this research study seeks to couple consumer opinions about booster seat and seatbelt safety with implications of the family decision making process. Based on this research, suggestions can be made for influencing that process, thereby promoting use of booster seats and seatbelts.

In 2010, this study's authors reported preliminary results of booster seat use's attitudinal model. This new study confirms the preliminary results about the model's rigor and provides interesting differences between mothers' and fathers' attitudes and intentions regarding booster-seat use. A family must not only decide to buy, but also regularly use a booster seat for each child. From this perspective, both mothers' and fathers' attitudes are equally important. As can be easily seen from children's art about and letters to Ollie (, Ollie Otter and booster seats were "cool" from children's perspective. However, all family members must cooperate to ensure children use their booster seats regularly. Therefore, the following review of family decision making in the literature on consumer behavior can be helpful for understanding behavior associated with using booster seats.


The decision making process can be as simple as a split-second impulse buy, or as complex as spending months researching alternatives before making a purchase. Decision making generally involves several phases: need recognition, information search, alternative evaluations, and purchase. This process becomes the family decision making process when two or more family members participate. When more than one person becomes involved, additional questions must be answered: Does everyone value the same attributes? Does everyone go through the same decision making phases? Does everyone take the same amount of time to go through the process? And, perhaps most importantly, who has the most influence over the decision? (Harcar, Spillan, and Kucukemiroglu, 2005). In addition, different family members can play different roles. Gatekeepers, for example, control the information flow from one family member to another. Purse holders control the flow of money from within the household. If a child expresses desire for a particular product to his or her mother but the mother (gatekeeper) never tells the father (purse holder), the child may not get the product. …

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