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Dealing With Ad-savvy Kids

Kapil Vaishnani
by Kapil Vaishnani  |  21st Apr, 2015 in Buzz

They are smarter. They know their brands. And you simply can’t argue with them.

How do you deal with a consumer who wants to buy everything you stock, starts rolling on the ground when you don’t bring it down from the shelf for close inspection, wants to pull it apart the very next minute to check ‘how it works,’ yells, frets and stomps his feet, and is just too hard to please, even if you bend down to his length, which is under five feet?

A marketer’s horror or delight- a child customer?

They are smarter. They know everything. And you simply can’t argue with them. Period.

Have you ever observe a child’s pester power in a toy store? The high-pitched whining in the din can drown away every other cacophony. “That’s final” yells the cross, young man, tightly folding his arms across his chest and Mommy has no choice but to concede in a feeble tone. Try reasoning and it won’t work. Try bribing. Issue threats – nothing works with today’s ad-savvy tech natives, who know their brands better than you do – and thank you, very much for your help!

Smart brands talk to kids and get heard. They gradually up their spends on this segment and begin to raise the next generation of loyal customers, nay influencers. Children represent an important demographic to marketers only because in addition to their own purchasing power (Children’s allowance is inversely proportional to the double-income couple’s reducing time spent with them) they also influence their parents’ purchase decisions in no mean manner.

As dad to an 10-year-old precocious child, I know how advertisers work their way into their little hearts, through clever in-TV, in-film, in-game brand embedment that gets passed on as ‘content pieces.’ How they use promotions, viral videos, SMS alerts, Facebook and Twitter to reach this target segment. Or how they sneak their way into GPS-apps, such as Google map to discover exactly what does your child hanker after and where and soon enough begin to target their ad bits to your child’s favorite hangout, through his favorite touch point.

McDonald’s now runs its own channel on YouTube, where the burger chain engages kids in discussions on such weighty subjects as, ‘What are McDonald’s McNuggets made of?’ Even I wasn’t able to guess that answer, although my toddler could.

Children are being bombarded with promotional messages from every nook and corner; every device they use – TV, tablet, notebook, gaming kiosk. The push messages come to them as “free” wallpapers, ring tones, games and quizzes that beg to be shared with other kids, who in turn become viral messengers for the brand.

The messaging is so ubiquitous, the kids, unlike adults are probably unable to distinguish between ads and content and find it impossible to filter them out from their lives. No wonder toddlers begin to recognize and call for specific brands as soon as they begin to utter their first few syllables!

Fast food chains, toy brands and clothing companies have been capitalizing on this segment for donkey’s years, but now other sectors are also joining in. In print, magazines such as Time, Sports Illustrated, Vogue and People have rolled out their special teen editions, that draw ads from these same brands.

All this makes me a little nervous about the impact this kind of ‘sell culture’ is having on my child. As a parent I would like to curtail, or at least monitor this activity.

How do you feel? Send us your views.

Kapil Vaishnani

Founder - Chairman, Litmus Branding Pvt. Ltd.
Kapil Vaishnani founded Litmus in 2001 to water his passion for creating brands. Kapil’s a creative brain hitched at business. He firmly believes that focused communication is the key and it must carry a purpose that serves both brand and business. Simplicity is Kapil’s power gear that has shaped some of the prominent brands in India and globally. His passion-filled sportsmanship with multi-disciplinary talent is brimming with experience of 20+ years. Talk sense and he is all ears.