After watching my 6 year old become increasingly proficient navigating the Internet, it became obvious to me that many advertisers are missing out on a huge market opportunity. My daughter knows exactly what web sites are most interactive, and those are the sites where she spends most of her time online. I have witnessed her discover and then use some pretty neat tools or applications on a number of "kid-friendly" web sites. These sites KNOW their market (influential, well spoken little people) and the buying-power behind them (that's where I come in).
One example I thought was particularly interesting was on www.ClubLibbyLu.com. This is a retail chain store, typically located in shopping malls, which seems to target grade school girls. Everything inside is pink and sparkly, filled with frills and feathers – a true little girls' heaven. The children who go in this store will usually exit with a fancy hairdo and make-up applied, the look reminiscent of a movie star or glamour girl. Therefore, it becomes a very memorable experience and one they want to recreate – even if they can't make it back to the store. That's where the website comes in. There are a number of interactive games and programs on this site. One of them allows girls to create their own "pooch", complete with doggie outfit and carrier, and then email or print a copy of their creation.
So, envision grandma getting an email from her out-of-state grandchild with exactly the perfect gift this little one so desires…and grandma having the ability to purchase said gift right then and there from the email, with little effort, and only a credit card. Most likely Grandma doesn't realize the marketing tactics and well-planned strategy behind this innocent email – but the marketing team at Libby Lu's certainly does. Great idea! (MoreVisibility does not have any affiliation with this site or company)
The company above is doing a great job influencing and interacting with their demographic, while understanding how to subtly involve the adults who will complete the purchase. Kids online today demand entertainment from every venue and they frequent and promote (by word of mouth) sites that provide it. Although the children are probably not aware of it, their brand loyalty patterns have already begun to form at this young age. Are brands realizing the future potential of this group in their current online marketing initiatives?
Children are growing up much differently then we did, in many ways. Many recent studies look at the trend toward users being engaged by multiple visual mediums at once (cross-segmentation marketing). Our children only know multiple visual mediums – being online with the television running is a fairly common (almost guaranteed) occurrence. In my house, I am not sure I have ever witnessed the television not running while my daughter was online – you would think they were attached electronically. So imagine how much impact these mediums have on her, and more importantly on her future choices for customer loyalty and brand preferences. Not having a valid presence online may suffice for your business in the short-term, but the effects will be felt more deeply in the long-term when these influential power houses – i.e., the children of today -grow up and don't recognize your company/brand. Current target audiences should be your primary focus, but some secondary focus on the future generation should be considered. This burgeoning market of tomorrow will force all of us to revaluate our branding and advertising ideas today – and likely push us to our creative and interactive limits. This is a generation born into a new age; they are demanding and have high expectations of companies and brands to not only deliver just products or goods, but also to provide them with an experience regardless of whether they are making a purchase or not.
Are you ready? Is your site entertaining? Take a look at how long people spend on your web site and what pages record the highest exit rate. Develop unique opportunities for users to engage with the site – even if these interactive components are directly tied to points of conversion or acquisition. Giving your visitors a reason to engage you're your site IS AN ACQUISITION and should be considered as such from value proposition and ROI calculation standpoints.
Send me an email to discuss your ideas on how to market for the next generation – I have the perfect focus group participant at home, if you need one.