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What are kids INTO?

Over the last year we have worked across many different categories, from airline catering to cosmetics and children’s products, and in doing so have gained insights into the changing markets of a wide range of sectors.

As we feel no industry exists in singularity but always in the context of others, we compared the industry crossovers, looking specifically for emerging trends relevant to the kids industry. Combining insights from larger market shifts with individual consumer behaviours highlighted a multitude of trends, of which we would like to share four of the more prominent ones.

 

1 – LITTLE HACKERS.

Generation Z don’t want off-the-shelf consumption, they want to create and customise their possessions. As they get older they are taking more control of the process, going on to define their own culture.

Children are being introduced to the tools and systems of their generation at a very young age. Encouraged and supported by parents and inspired by the potential of kits on the market which provide support structures, kids with discerning minds go on to build and make personalised objects. They learn by building and destroying.

The internet is giving these young entrepreneurs a platform to share their thoughts and sell their products.

“We’re a youth culture magazine written by youths, not guys in their thirties” – Elise By Olsen, 15 years old Oslo-based founder and editor of Recens Paper

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2 – GLOBAL SOPHISTICATES.

Thanks to the ever-present internet, social media, migrating work forces and the rise in city living, children are exposed to a plethora of cultural backgrounds. They are increasingly moving and interacting across national and cultural boarders having a visible impact on attitudes and tastes.

City children commonly adopt multicultural celebrations – Holi, Day of the dead, Halloween, Chinese New Year and are into Global Popular Culture. Today kids are in the know more than ever and their tastes for fashion, food and services and becoming more and more sophisticated. Due to the impact of social media, traditional geo-dependent trend cycles are quickly disappearing.

“Today’s kids have sophisticated palates. A trend in the food industry is the disappearance of child specific menus. Instead kids are offered a smaller portion of the grown up’s dish. So kids can pick an adult taste in a smaller size” – Jennifer Pembroke Johnson, Global Consumer Insights Director at McDonalds

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3 – GENERATIONAL ROLES.

There is a visible change in the dynamics and behaviours of different generations within families. Fewer children born in Europe, older first-time mums, and fathers and grandparents getting more involved in the everyday care of children has lead to changes in priorities when making purchasing decisions.

Unlike previously, where mum traditionally did most of the shopping for children, grandparents and fathers are now proactive decision makers, buyers and main users of kid’s products too.

While more money is being spent on fewer offspring, families are looking for a polarised range of products and services where ‘cheap’ still has appeal, but where children are also ‘treated’ to the emerging luxury products developed for the youngest generation.

“Parents always want quality products, but what’s interesting is that there is a luxury market emerging in the kids industry” – Prof. Peter Wippermann, at Folkwang University Essen

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4 – NETWORKED FAMILIES.

Families are living busier lives and therefore are looking for offerings which will make their day-to-day lives easier and save time. Products and services that minimise planning and provide maximum quality family-time are increasingly popular.

Parents seek subscription services that offer ‘ready-to-play’ activities or simply allow them to eliminate chores such as shopping for nappies and other everyday items. Family members are reaching out to technology in order to structure their hectic lives. Apps and websites are not only used to keep the family schedules updated, but also to communicate and locate each other.

“Is my husband going to be home for dinner? Does that business meeting conflict with basketball practice? Game night, girl’s night, date night… keeping everyone’s schedules straight in my work and family life is a herculean effort. To manage everyone’s coming and going, I need something more than just a place to jot things down”- Busy London Mum

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You may have noticed that these four trends are already beginning to impact the children industry, but they are just some of many, with more emerging every week. To not only stay abreast with, but to stand a chance bringing innovation to the market, companies in the children’s industry would be wise to do brand specific research, helping them understand not only what these trends mean for their particular business now and in the near future but also the behaviours and attitudes of their consumers who will, ultimately, decide the success or failure of the company.

19th November 2015
Category : Uncategorised
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Expert interview with Design Director at LEGO Licencing®

Sine Klitgaard Møller is a design director at Lego Licensing and has worked for the LEGO group since 1995. She has vast experience in doing research with families. The LEGO company is insight driven, meaning they base new product development on research findings rather than relying on assumptions and churning out new merchandise without much thought. This is why LEGO is still at the forefront of the children’s toy industry, being nominated the most powerful global brand earlier this year.

We had the pleasure of working with Sine during a project for LEGO® wear the children’s wear brand that goes the extra mile for families by understanding and supporting their lives. She has kindly given us some time to answer a few questions.

 

AT LEGO YOU DO A LOT OF RESEARCH, WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO TALK TO PEOPLE?

“You can have an idea of what you think things are like, but you don’t know for sure if that is the case. When talking to parents they will tell you their ideal picture of what they would like their lives to be like, not necessarily what their lives are actually like. For example, mums often tell us they are trying to stimulate their child creatively and would like toys that help them do so. But when digging a bit deeper it becomes clear that it is not only about creativity but also about trying to get the child to play on its own for a few minutes so mum can get on with other things for a while.”

WE FIND THAT THE CHILDREN’S INDUSTRY IS PARTICULARLY PRONE TO PREJUDICE, EVERYONE KNOWS A CHILD AND OFTEN FEEL THEY HAVE A GOOD GRASP OF THEIR PREFERENCES. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT?

“Doing research is not about proving what you have in your head. At LEGO Licensing staff are encouraged not to say “my kids like… or my cousin’s children like …” it’s simply not credible. You would never trust a medical scientist who says: – my kids like this medicine and they didn’t get sick”

CAN YOU GIVE US AN INSIGHT YOU GOT FROM RESEARCHING WITH KIDS THAT YOU WOULDN’T HAVE FOUND OUT OTHERWISE?

“One of the big take outs from the LEGO® Wear research that we wouldn’t have found without research was that LEGO wear needs to be easy, not fashionable or trendy. We also learnt fathers take on dressing children & what they want from children’s clothing. That meant we can tailor advertising to include dads and show things from a dad’s perspective, i.e. how to match clothes, and how easily it washes etc. That is a totally new ‘hook’ we can use.”

AT WHAT STAGE OF A PROJECT DO YOU DO RESEARCH?

“We do research at all stages of a project. In the beginning to define the brief, and then we have play tests every week where kids are invited into LEGO to try toys that are in development. We also do packaging tests in the final stages of a project, and sometimes even after a project is done to evaluate the outcome.”

HOW DO YOU FIND KIDS TO WORK WITH?

“We use consultancies who can find us children with the right criteria, such as age and gender. We are also in touch with a few kindergardens where we have a sign-up system for those interested in taking part in research with parents approval.”

KIDS ARE UNPREDICTABLE, HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOU GET THEM TO FEED BACK ON WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO?

“Although keeping an open mind you need to be super clear on what you want to get out of the research. And then you need need simple straightforward questions. When doing group tests you have to be aware of group dynamics and peer pressure. For example in a shopping scenario where kids are asked something along the lines of: ‘If you have £10 what would you buy?’, if someone picks a thing someone else also likes they may not realise it can be picked again despite there just being one sample piece of clothing.”

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE RESEARCH AFTER A PROJECT?

We transfer the knowledge from research between other projects. We have a common share and we constantly re-visit research.

CAN YOU GIVE US AN EXAMPLE OF A RESEARCH FINDING THAT HAS BEEN SUCCESSFULLY TRANSLATED INTO A PRODUCT?

“LEGO Friends — LEGO bricks made specifically for girls — is a good example. It started with many years heavy research before we launched the products. We were under the assumption that girls don’t like to build, but they do, they just think they can’t do it –– the company’s tag line is ‘creating the builders of tomorrow’ –– if we want to support children to become the builders of tomorrow, and we are going to have female engineers we had better get girls building.”

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A big Thank You to Sine for talking to us!

11th November 2015
Category : Design, Experts, Insights
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