Oscar Wilde famously said “Youth is wasted on the young.” Today’s market research, however, suggests otherwise…and companies are sitting up and taking notice.
Kids are an incredibly influential consumer group having both a direct and an indirect impact on a wide range of product categories. Over the past few decades this power has been extended by the principle of “family democracy”, where parents now actively encourage the involvement of kids in brand decision making, whether it be for lunchbox snacks, technology or the family holiday.
Textbook marketing theory always distinguishes between the customer and the consumer, and children, more often than not, fall into the consumer category. Companies, seeing this, often focus efforts on the parents, the wallet-wielding “customers” who purchase the products for their children. Recent trends, however, indicate that this may not be the way forward, and that for certain products, targeting children may provide the highest returns on brand investment.
Everything from cereal, to soda, to xbox, to vacations now have to include something to attract youngsters, who, studies show, are growing in influence over family-wide decision making processes. Cars are including DVD players and tv screens, hotels are including kids activities, and restaurants have special kids menus. The numbers don’t lie: people are more likely to make decisions in favour of a business if they feel their kids will be happy and comfortable with the choice. After all, happy children = happy parents, and brands that gives parents quality, safe, nutritious (in the case of F&B) products and services at a favourable price point (and even at a premium—there’s no price tag on peace of mind!) and also position themselves positively with the younger markets have seen huge surges in sales and profits.
So what are brands doing? It’s not always feasible for a brandmark to look “youthful” or to change their visual identity to attract the youth, and more often than not, these visual changes to the logo are ineffective. What does work, however, are for product-driven organizations to revamp packaging to make them more appealing to younger consumers or to create product and brand extensions that are specifically just for children, thus enlarging market share, and creating younger (and more persistent!) brand advocates.