Advertising to “Kids” Through Their Parents

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Advertising to “Kids” Through Their Parents

Marketing to children through their parents has long been a standard practice in advertising.  Conventional wisdom has been that ends around a child’s 18th birthday.  Well, conventional wisdom is being flipped on its ear.

According to Lindsay Schutte, Dir. Generational Strategy Program, Frank N. Magid Associates, parents are among the most influential people in the lives of Millennials, even when they’re well into their 20s and 30s.  This is a relationship that can be leveraged by marketers. Schutte has found:

  • 44% of moms say that in their family, parents make the ultimate decision but actively seek kids’ input.
  • Dads are far more involved in decision making in today’s families.
  • Decision-making styles that families use now are not the ones most marketers speak to:  Parents like to empower kids, but prefer to be active partners in decision-making, rather than leaving kids on their own.

What this means for marketers is:

  • Cohort marketing (marketing to kids OR marketing to moms) is dead.
  • To succeed, brands and businesses must understand and develop products and messages that fit with families’ new decision-making paradigm.
  • Brands that truly understand the decision-making style in play for their category will have the tools they need to better meet their consumers’ needs.
  • Brands that challenge the idea that family decisions mean one winner and one loser are setting themselves up for success.

It’s not shocking to learn moms have the most influence on their children and their buying habits.  But Look out.  Dads are catching up.

Almost one-third of men are now the principal shoppers in the household. Men’s share of retail shopping trips increased across all outlets from 2008-2009, while women’s share declined in all outlets.  Retail channels with the greatest relative importance to men include convenience/gas outlets, warehouse clubs, and grocery stores.  Men have increased their “average dollar basket size” in grocery by 56% over the past five years.  Men’s share of dollars in the grocery channel has increased from 30% to 38% in five years (a 27% gain versus a decline of 11% for women).

Dads don’t like to browse and shop when it comes to family-oriented products. They identify their product targets, zero in on them, complete their purchases and leave.  They gravitate to center store and expect items to be logically placed near similar items.  They are likely to have done Internet research on any significant purchase prior to heading to the store, to minimize shopping time.

  • They have a propensity to make impulse buys – an opportunity for marketers.
  • Electronic media and Internet are key.  “New” dads listen to Radio, watch TV, and surf the Web for parenting and other information/entertainment.
  • Dads appreciate a humorous element in advertising (as opposed to more sentiment-related creative relating to kids/family themes that are more popular with moms).
  • Marketing/advertising should reflect these dads’ parental motivations to give their kids what they want, make their kids happy, and to be perceived as heroes by their children.
  • Integrating traditional male marketing strategies within the baby/children’s products market appears to be an extremely viable approach for brands looking to appeal to younger dads.
  • Including products or product appeals geared to dads within promotions primarily targeting moms can also be effective.

So at the end of the day what’s it all mean?  Children have been conditioned from the start to rely on their parents for shopping advice and influence.  And that influence is going strong well into adulthood.

Tami Freeman is the Media Director of The Radio Agency. Please follow The Radio Agency’s Blog “Sounding Board” by subscribing to the email or RSS links above.Visit our website