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Happy dad Generation Z, it’s no longer a mother’s world!

Mid-April the 22nd edition of the yearly Trends in Kids and Youth Marketing Congress took place; the location this time was the Museum for Communication in The Hague. This is a report of day 1, the Kids Day. Some 120 people were present to witness a very informative day with nothing else but exquisite presentations. Interesting point: an equal level of attention was spent on education, (grand)parents and education as on marketing. It is most likely impossible to disconnect the one from the other? Here are some other remarkable findings that kept popping up: fathers finally seem to receive the recognition they deserve, notwithstanding the digital era we still need the TV, children marketing in the year 2013 has to be sensible, and children should get out of the house more often to somewhat get back to basics. In what follows we provide a resume of some of the sessions.

Eating carrots alone will first turn you orange and then kill you. [Steven Pont]

Developmental psychologist Steven Pont claims to not know much about marketing. What he does know much about, are the four important education styles parents appeal to: indifferent, setting free, authoritarian and concerned. Ideally we use a mix of all four styles. As it’s not an option to only eat carrots (he did really say that!), it’s also not an option to tenaciously cling on to one single style.

An over-concerned style, for example, might result in a lack of training for children for their future lives. We replace the experience by an instruction; this already starts with the pedagogic crèche employee who tries to avoid that a building block tower falls over. However, negative experiences during childhood are also important. Children get a burn-out as a result of their parents’ instructions. Children feel an incredible need to experience things. That is why they withdraw from the pedagogic domain where they only too often get a don’t.

There are two ways for children to learn: play (experimenting) and learn (instructions). Boys and girls are different (try letting them play with clay; on the boys’ side it will get everywhere, even on the ceiling!), but they both are children. From a pedagogic point of view it is much more interesting to let the boys experience first and to give them instructions later. Boys prefer playing behind the shed; for girls it does not really matter where they play.

Gen Z boy playing

If a boy aged 7 starts a sentence with ‘Can I…’, then a woman’s brain automatically opens the door towards a ‘Maybe better not’. Fathers are being involved increasingly in the domain of education. Maybe it’s time for a first masculine wave as trend for 2014? Steven is aiming hard at it. It is not about macho behaviour but about allowing risks – learning through experience, not through a manual. There is too much protection these days. “Pont’s law” says: back to the experience, away from the fear.

Mix fun and education messages together. People want to party! [Jacqueline Harding]

Jacqueline Harding at Tomorrow’s Child (UK) promises to break the code of the ‘Cosmic Digital Media Generation’ (CDMG) in an unlimited world. After all, you don’t want your brand in a museum; you want it to continue to appeal to today’s children.

Jacqueline’s main advice: “Make the world a better place.” If you do so, 83% of the consumers will consider buying your product. People look at value, not at boring stuff such as the price. Furthermore it no longer is a mother’s world. Father and grandparents also check a brand’s message.

There are other notions starting with M that need to be taken into account:

  • Move it: day turns into night and vice versa; learning becomes playing; education does not only concern intellect, children also need to learn about failure
  • Mobility: how flexible is your brand?
  • Mind it: the importance of media and mirror neurons; children want interaction with brands
  • Mash it up: a mix of fun and education makes your brand more relevant; your brand/product/service is chosen emotionally
  • Multi-talk it: there are many ways to communicate your message

The theme ‘responsible children marketing’ could not have been on this congress’ programme 10 years ago. [Moniek Buijzen]

Prof. Dr. Moniek Buijzen (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Bitescience) wrote a SWOCC publication (in Dutch) about young consumers, in which she gathered all her knowledge. She is proud to be a ‘moral crusader’ and share her 5 golden rules for responsible children marketing.

  1. Avoid materialism idealisation. Children should not grow up thinking that you can buy happiness; that does not bring on happy adults.
  2. Don’t let them whinge.
  3. Make it recognisable. Children are less good than adults in spotting what is advertising.
  4. Avoid their being misled. What is acceptable to the target group?
  5. Limit sugars, salt and fat. Things could be better.

Bonus: Act as if they were your own. This is the easiest rule, which would allow forgetting the previous five. Moniek accentuates that she is not in favour of protecting, but of making them resistant.

Later this week we’ll share the review of the Youth Day, the second day of the Trends in Kids and Youth Marketing Congress. For a full review of the Kids Day (in Dutch) click here.

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Posted in Insights, NextGens