Brands Are Engaging with Children at a Younger Age Than Ever BeforeBrands Are Engaging with Children at a Younger Age Than Ever Before
Kids Industries’ Global Family Conference reveals 82% of 4-6-year-old children have access to a tablet and 77% can access a smartphone. Study also finds that nearly a quarter of children discover brands through online influencers.
March 22, 2023
The one-day event was attended by 200+ delegates from the licensing, toy, gaming, edtech and sustainability sectors.
Brands are talking to children sooner
Delegates discovered that a “seismic shift” has taken place and that brands are talking to children sooner, with much of the content children aged 4-6 chosen independently by the child.
The study found that 82% of children aged 4-6 globally have access to a tablet, 77% have access to a smartphone and 67% have access to smart devices (smartwatch, generic or kids-focused smart speaker).
Children aged 4-6 are also accessing services, which though not necessarily designed for them, allow for the rapid dissemination of high volumes of content, with 55% using YouTube and 21% using TikTok, despite the platform having a 12+ rating.
The result being that much of the content children are engaging with is chosen independently by them, with 48% choosing most or all their streaming video content, 44% choosing most or all of their online video content and 28% choosing most or all of their audio content.
How brands are reaching children at an earlier age, Kids Industries
Children’s spheres of influence
Raj Pathmanathan, creative director, KI, led a session on building affinity with brands and based on the study findings, looked at the changes within the global family that are impacting the application of brand love principles.
“Children’s love for a brand is dictated by their age and developmental stages and whilst the influence of parents on children’s decision-making is clear, increased access to digital products and services means that children today have increased control over their decision-making,” says Pathmanathan. “Kids have a new-found independence.”
The study reveals that children’s spheres of influence have expanded and where previously, parents, siblings and friends would prompt engagement with different brands, today online influencers now play a huge role.
Parents generally have the overall influence over children until the age of seven, when children begin to have more influence over their own decisions. From there, however, the parental influence declines rapidly and is overtaken by influencers.
The online influencer market is valued at $16.4 billion worldwide according to Statista, and it’s here where around a quarter of U.K. children are discovering new streaming shows or films, as well as new brands and products.
Influencers now rival friends and family in decision-making for the family – with toy influencers being more important than friends and relatives (20% versus 18%). The split is also now equal (21%) for apparel.
Peer influence is also growing in scale as children connect and share with one another on messaging apps, social media platforms and gaming platforms. They can proudly display their fandom not just on their T-shirt but on their avatar. Over a quarter (35%) of children aged 4-13 use social media and 46% of this group play “Roblox.”
“Brands today must be brave to be successful – making hard choices and doubling down on the select number of channels which are generating high engagement amongst kids,” says Pathmanathan. “The good news is that the proliferation of digital platforms is enabling more than passive entertainment consumption, children are now creating videos and digital worlds themselves on platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, ‘Roblox’ and ‘Minecraft.’ The low barriers to entry across these platforms is enabling every child to be a creator today if they want to be – and that’s got to be a good thing to get involved in.”
Ages of children regularly using social media, Kids Industries
Collaboration is key
The parent may be buying, but children now have a huge influence on family purchases: 59% influence family holidays, leisure activities and days out, 49% propose which TV/film streaming platforms parents subscribe to and 52% have their say on selecting grocery products.
Pathmanathan commented: “Whilst parents might be making the final purchasing decision, it is the child that is now firmly in the driving seat, lobbying the parent when it comes to everything from groceries and personal tech to days out and holidays.”
If the COVID pandemic taught people anything, it was about reconnecting with family and spending time together. License Global reported earlier this year that board games are very much on the up.
Families strove to find ways to spend time together during the various lockdowns and this has continued as people return to some sort of normality.
This is also true of playing outdoors, with perhaps a surprising 64% of children saying they regularly play outside, a number that rises as high as 75% in Brazil.
Pathmanathan encouraged brands to use this information to create shared stories across new media in new ways and to innovate to provide families more shared experiences.
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