By: Eva Grace – PR Consultant of Fortune PR
Kids are a unique market. They represent a very important demographic today because when marketers promote kids products, they aren’t just marketing to kids, but also their parents.
Kids have the power to influence their parents buying habits. In Sutherland & Thompson’s book called ‘Kidsfluence’, PR and marketing experts call this ‘pester power’, which is the ability to get kids to ask their parents to buy a specific product or take them to a specific event. Pestering or nagging can be divided into two categories, which is persistence and importance. Persistence is when kids nags repeatedly over and over. While importance is when kids creates a desire so their parents will provide the best for them, and in the end, make their parents feel guilty if they don’t.
Sandra L. Calvert, The Director of Children’s Digital Media Center, stated on her journal that children now live and grow up in a highly-sophisticated marketing environment that influences their preferences and behaviors. One of the strengths of companies that market successfully to children is remembering that, despite modern innovations in technology, the basic wants and needs of kids have not changed very much over the years. Kids want to fit in with their peers, be popular, and be entertained.
To create brand loyalty, engaging kids with the brand is important. To do so, we must start by creating an activity that suitable with the age of the kids targeted for the brand. For example, pre-school age is around 4 to 5 years old. In this stage, kids start to develop their skills and abilities. This can encourage the kids to take initiative and be brave enough to do all sorts of activities.
Moreover, during the age of 6 to 11 years old when kids started going to primary school, the kids is experiencing the stage of liveliness and inferiority. In this stage, kids are actively seeking new experiences and learning new things from their environment. Their curiosity is at the highest level and they are actively absorbing information like a sponge. Any kind of brand engagement that tries to boost their creativity and fulfill their curiosity will be a good strategy.
Doing it Ethically
When engaging brand to kids as consumers, it is also important to pay attention to ethics. Criticism regarding marketing tactics to engage kids emerges from several scholars and policy makers. Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, argued that marketing targets emotions, not intellect. It trains children to choose products, not for the actual value of the product, but because of celebrity or what’s on the package. The solution is not to stop your marketing tactics if your brand appeals to children, but rather to discover ways to market to kids ethically.
The most ethical way is to not forget that your brands also need to communicate with parents. This includes making sure parents are well inform about the safety features. Second, is to encourage kids to advocate the brand. Give the kids opportunities to create user-generated content to express themselves. Content such as fan blogs for essay submissions and competitions. Lastly, produce original and child-appropriate digital content, such as e-books, educational games, or interactive videos on Youtube. Today’s kids are smart and highly curious digital native. Brands also need to be reminded about the responsibility to empower kids through their brand engagement.
 Source: Sutherland, Anne., Thompson, Beth. 2003. Kidsfluence. New York: McGraw-Hill
 Source: http://www.iman-dakar.com/bibliotek/livres/filieres/marketing-communication-vente-evenementiel/pdfs/children-as-consumers-advertising-and-marketing.pdf
 Source: https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/advertising-to-children-tricky-business-subway
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