Report says brands need to wake up to ‘dramatically shifting’ needs of children

Colm is the editor of MarketingTech, with a mission to bring the most important developments in technology to both businesses and consumers.

Brands that sell products to children need to make sure that they understand the “dramatically shifting” environment that young people are growing up in.

20,000 UK children were surveyed as part of the latest Future Forecasts report form the research agency Kids Insights. Among the key changes that brands need to consider are technological changes, the evolving demands of younger consumers, the rise of YouTube stars and the increasing demand for gender neutral products.

The report comes as brands begin to start outlining their marketing, content and product developments investments for 2018/19.

“In the battle for children’s attention and ultimately their hearts and minds, innovation is increasingly critical,” said Nick Richardson, Futures Analyst at Kids Insight. “The brands which are enjoying success are those which are extremely responsive to the constantly developing and increasingly complex kids ecosystem.

“Trends are coming and going far quicker than ever before – and brands who are in tune with how children are behaving are able to turn these trends into opportunities rather than see them as risks. Brands that stand still are going to find it harder and harder to regain the attention of young consumers.”

Changing landscapes

The report highlights a number of key trends among the young consumers surveyed that are likely to have significant effects on the brands that they engage with.

While VR has massively hyped as the next big thing in gaming, industry estimates now don’t see it becoming commonplace in UK homes until at least 2020. In the meantime, AR will likely become much more established in the minds of young gamers.

“Apple is throwing its weight behind AR, and with our data showing that over half of all teenage mobile phone owners own an iPhone, the reach of AR could surge dramatically,” says Richardson. A lot of established toy manufacturers are also making moves into AR, with Paw Patrol and transformers set to release toys with AR capabilities in the next year.

When it comes to video games, the report found that most under 12s are consuming content that is either inappropriate for them or illegal. 60% of the boys aged 10 -12, for example, are playing games with an age rating of 16+. Over half of the 4 – 6 year olds surveyed were using some form of social media.

“With Facebook recently launching a ‘safer’ space for under 13s, will 2018 be the year that both platforms and content producers both recognise the specific requirements need for this age group and develop a proposition which tweens and young teens find appealing?” Richardson added.

“And with increased scrutiny on social media platforms it will be interesting to see how those platforms develop their propositions especially with the impact of GDPR legislation.”

Another pronounced trend is the move from typing to voice control. Kids Insights estimate that by 2020, around 50% of all internet searches will be done using voice. A lot of this growth will likely come from children who find it much more natural to ask Siri or Alexa rather than type a query into a search bar.

Another important factor in the changing landscape that young consumers are developing in is the rise of YouTube influencers and stars. YouTube offers much more unfiltered opinion and authenticity, where stars are not looking to portray themselves perfectly, but honestly. Despite recent controversies of individuals with huge online followings, the influence of YouTube stars is likely to continue to grow.

All of this taken together could create a generation of technologically savvy innovators. “With the trend for co-creation continuing,” says Richardson, “where children no longer just wish to just consume, but instead to code and craft their own content – can books seek to innovate and tap into this trend?

“Using Augmented Reality technology with books could be one way to allow for wider experience with printed text. Utilising technology such as AR could help printed books reach an audience who are increasingly using screens and devices over books. We expect this to have an impact in engaging and enhancing creativity skills in children.”

 You can download the full report here.

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