Marketing to kids in 21st century

There is an advertising stereotype that exists for kids in advertising.

The kids are supposed to be cute, wear a spectacle to add to cute value, they sit and watch TV, and run to parents demanding whatever latest they saw on TV. To appeal to the kids the commercial used to be fast paced, had bright colours and had the right drool value and the kids will respond. This may have been correct years ago, but is it true today?

Today’s kids are very different from kids of just a generation ago. For one they have access to a variety of media, which they access from a variety of sources. This means that the content available to them is more eclectic, more varied. To top it there is far more commercialization around them, with even schools not being immune to it.

Two they consume far more advertising then the kids of past. The greater consumption of advertising messages is making kids more evaluative and aware. They are clever, imaginative and inventive; they know what the brand is up to and what it wants them to do.  This generation of kids is wary of advertising, and that is a true challenge for marketers.

New generation of kids needs new rules of engagements

Here are three pointers that can help us target the young consumers and come out winners

#1. Pester power is transforming

We are living in an age where ‘kids have grown up fast’ syndrome is real. They have more autonomy and greater say in brand decisions. It’s not that kids do not want to show their attitude, or come across as ‘cool’, they do, but they do it with thought and precision. They are clear with what they want and pestering is normally left to products that are low value and are impulse driven. This generation of kids gets bored with ‘brands’ fast and moves on to the next target. So if nagging is all the brand banked on, then it would lose the battle very quickly.

#2. Parents are reliving their childhood

The new trend in market is about parents reliving their childhood through their children. This is creating a new kind of ‘pester importance’ where the parents want their kid’s critical opinion before they indulge the child. New hobbies, new toys, newer thrills are all driven by parents wanting to explore things they didn’t do as a child, but never at the cost kids disapproval. This importance of kid’s opinion is something that brands have started to discover. Automobile and fashion brands are creating specific engagement strategies towards this end

#3. Kids are the new pressure groups

Questioning every set convention is inherent in any child’s psyche. They will always question rules and this questioning can open up completely new avenues for brand marketers. The issue here is to be truthful, honest and completely above board. Because the kids are ‘tribal’ by behavior, they tend to adopt the rules of tribes very quickly. The sheer multiplication effect of this behavior is enormous. The anti-cracker and anti-plastics campaign took off because the kids adopted them out of their own volition, and forced the elders to change. Imagine what they can do if you involve them in a variety of larger causes.

Going forward

Increased message clutter is a reality of our times, and Internet is only adding to the clutter. The only way then for the brands to engage their customers will be through open and honest communication. less trickery and an interactive brand environment may be the only way forward.

Published in Impact, Feb 2012 issue. http://pitchonnet.com/blog/2012/02/20/marketing-to-kids-in-the-21st-century/

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