Hot Stuff

Preschool/gradeschool

Surrounded by character-driven marketing from an early age (can you say Nick Jr.?), kids are influencing purchases earlier than you might think. During an online chat conducted with parents of 2-to-5-year-olds, Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, found brand-conscious kids start becoming aware of what products their parents buy between ages 2 and 3, and 75 percent of parents said their children often make specific brand requests.

"Any product or service kids ultimately use, they have great influence on," says Mark Wesling, vice president at SmallTalk, a kids marketing consultancy in Cincinnati. "The argument is: 'Hey mom-you're gonna get this for me anyway. Why not get me the one I want?'"

With the influx of working parents and highly scheduled days for kids, Rachel Geller sees parents wanting ways to connect to their independent kids, and kids wanting ways to feel even more independent. "Anything that smacks of technology and answers a parental need to protect their kids is going to be important," says Geller, chief strategic officer and founding partner of Geppetto Group, a kid and teen advertising agency and marketing consultancy in New York City. That could include anything from voice mail for kids to kid-sized electronic organizers. Products like easy-prep food or room organizers can help children feel more independent.

With kids acting more like busy adults and parents acting like kids to ease their stress, the new marketing term is "kidulthood." "Adults are acting more like teens," says Geller. "They feel they have the right to have time and money to themselves. On the other hand, you see kids acting much more mature and having stress and responsibility. It's an opportunity for family marketers to actually be able to take almost the same benefits--relaxation, entertainment and stimulus--and market it to all ages."

Next: Tweens »

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This article was originally published in the December 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hot Stuff.

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