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The challenge of advertising to kids today
They may be vulnerable and innocent but rest assured they are bullies…
What do you call a customer who wants to buy everything you have, doesnot care what it costs and is less than 1 meter tall? A marketer’s dream? Nope. You call them kids.
While they might want to buy everything they see, kids don’t have the money to pay for what they want. So why create ads for kids? Simply, they posses a currency more powerful than cash: influence.
To put you in perspective; women, even though make less than half of all household income, control over 80 % of the house pound spent and guess who would mostly be the main influencer in brand choice? Their kids!
40% of the Egyptian population falls between 5-15 years age-bracket and considering that they do not make their own living, still they have some disposable income “pocket money” that they have a free hand to, in comparison to other age categories, who have financial obligations.
It is indeed large enough to capture the attention of marketers, retailers and advertisers.There are numerous product categories that target this segment; think snacks, shoes, clothes, fast foods, entertainment, toys…etc.
Remember that old saying, "Children should be seen and not heard”. Well, times have changed and marketers have come a long way. Today, there probably isn’t a kid marketer out there who doesn’t realize the importance of keeping a close tap to this influential, ever-changing market of consumers.
Studying kids as consumers is complicated. Let alone reaching them. They are far from being as vulnerable and unsuspecting as many believe. Kids as young as 3 recognize the persuasive intent of advertising, by 7 they understand exactly what advertisers are trying to achieve, and by 10 and above are adept critics and a hard audience to influence. This is not surprising considering the volume of advertising kids are exposed to daily.
Advertisers need to distinct 3 markets in the 7-15 years age bracket; 7-9 years, 10-12 years, and 13-15 years. The reason being the rapid development that kids go through; what is relevant and entertaining for a 7 year old is criticized as childish by a 10 year old and ignored by those who are 15.
Furthermore, kids are becoming more selective about the programs they watch and are starting to plan their schedules around their favorite programs. TV commercials to them are themselves a program that they watch keenly.
In developing a campaign addressing kids it may be useful to keep in mind some of the latest findings in child research:
- Children are critical of child models. They dislike others who appear to talk down or up to them, and they reject unnatural actions, unrealistic situations and bad actors. However, they do react positively to slightly older children.
- Children evaluate an ad, and often the brand, on the basis of the ad’s ability to entertain them. Although they are easily bored, if an ad is entertaining kids will accurately recall scenes, messages and even the brand name. Furthermore, children are not selective about the advertising they watch as long as it entertains them. Therefore many of their favorite commercials are in fact directed at adults.
- Children, especially younger ones, respond more positively to messages delivered visually rather than orally. They become lost if the ad has too many words. A catchy jingle and a memorable visual are often the most effective way to communicate brand ideas.
- If an ad does not engage attention in the first few moments, children switch off. If an ad is boring, the message is sure to be lost. However, if they do watch the ad they are quick to see the point (unlike most adults, kids will “get it” after only one viewing), and will watch their favorites over and over again.
Given the developmental diversity of children and the above constraints, creating ads for kids is very challenging. It will generally take more thought, work, creativity and research to get it right.
Even though kids exert some control over their parents’ purse strings, the purchase decision does lie with the parents jointly with their influencers. Today, many advertisers are working on creating campaigns that can effectively target and appeal to both parent and kids on separate levels which is even a bigger challenge since we all know these two do not always agree. However, the reward of such campaigns, if successful, is pure gold.