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31st May 2019

Four marketeers got on a train…

Last week we had a lovely Marketing team day out to the lovely Docklands area of London, to attend the ‘Engaging Kids and Marketing to Parents’ Conference in the Museum of London. Over twenty top brands who know a thing or two about working with young people and how to convey marketing messages to parents and guardians alike.

The day was packed full of presentations and question and answer sessions, with a little bit of networking thrown in for fun during the breaks. We all had a great day and came away feeling a little wiser (and a little out of touch) having learned all about what the kids are into these days and what a fast paced, smart technologied (?!) world we live in.

Florence Symington, Head of Marketing at Eureka! The National Children’s Museum opened the event by explaining how important it is to know your audience and what they will sit up and pay attention to. She said that the best thing about working with and marketing to children is that everything is based around the idea of ‘fun’! Their response is always emotional so it’s essential to send the right message.

Helenor Gilmour, Director of Insight from Beano Studios gave a great presentation on what makes kids tick and why things like Fortnite and FIFA 19 are such a big hit. According to Helen, nine of the big motivations that attract children are:

Mastery – Children like to be the ‘best’ at things and will practice until they master a skill or game
Competition – All kids want to win!
Autonomy – the want of control within your own life, often shown in characteristics of game players
Social – The appeal of interacting with peers
Repetition – The safety of familiarity, connected to Mastery
Identity – To understand one’s self and share that personality with peers
Learning – A desire to learn and acquire information
Mood Management – The need to raise moods and be excited and to learn to relax
Collectability – The ability to pick and choose the things they collect and build a sense of identity with

Helen also went on to say that children’s decisions aren’t always entirely forged on their own. Alongside their own independent mind, friends play a huge part in the choices they make and ‘mum matters’, to use Helen’s words, when it comes to making big decisions.

“Kids are digital navigators, not explorers”

A panel of experts from the people who know children best, i.e. mums dads and parental gatekeepers were there to answer questions from marketing moguls in the room on how they feel about certain brands and what they look for when choosing products and services for their families.

All parents and guardians agreed they obviously wanted brands and products to be marketed safely and responsibility to their children, some went further to specify products be marketed and produced ethically. They all preferred activities and products with an educational twist attached to them and where possible, sought out these activities, even more so if they could be done as a family and allowed the parent to understand them. It seemed it was important to be cool and appealing to children (have you tried getting a child interested in something when they aren’t?!) but if a parent couldn’t understand or trust the product then it wouldn’t get past the gatekeepers.

Alison Ruane Brand Strategy Director of HarperCollins Children’s Books also highlighted how the books that are most successful and stand the test of time are the stories that can be read and enjoyed from all members of the family. One of the most popular books they discussed was the loveable ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ by the dear, late Judith Kerr. The tale of the hungry feline has been around for 50 years so is often fondly remembered by grandparents when reading it to their grandchildren. As mentioned earlier, another reason this book is so successful is the upselling of associated products like soft toys and even a stage show, which incidentally is a great day out for all the family (speaking from personal experience!)

Overall, one of the main things the conference alluded to, was that children and parents alike want to spend more time together (I know, who’d have thought?!) And would rather spend money on days out and experiences rather than just ‘stuff’ and ‘things’. This was particularly helpful to representatives of Legoland and Zoos and of course to us, being providers of experiences where memories can be made, rather than physical products.

So, you want to get the kids on board? Easy. Be relevant, appeal to the gatekeepers and be one of the good guys! Oh, and if you can create some really annoying video on Youtube you’re bound to do well as well 😛

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