A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend the MRS’ Kids and Youth Research Conference. At FreshMinds, we do a lot of work in this area, helping brands to understand their young audiences in more detail, and to develop content, products, services and communications campaigns that appeal to kids and teens alike, so we were keen to hear about more of the research being conducted in this space.
The conference certainly didn’t disappoint! We heard a number of thought-provoking presentations and came away with some fascinating insights into kids’ (and parents’) behaviours. Here are my top 3:
1. TV is not the babysitter it was once thought to be
Sky Media and iGen challenged the long-held assumption that TV acts as a babysitter for pre-schoolers, keeping them occupied whilst their parents pursue other tasks. In fact, their research found that the majority of pre-schoolers’ TV viewing is with mum, an insight which has significant implications for advertisers, influencing not only the timing but crucially the positioning and targeting of their campaigns. Particularly interesting is the insight that mums are most likely to respond to ad content that engages their children and makes them lean forwards. This could have profound implications for the ways in which creative agencies seek to create content that engages mums via their kids in the future.
2. Social media helps teenagers reinforce their identity in new ways we hadn’t quite understood before
Ofcom and ESRO highlighted the important role that social media plays in identity formation. Their research showed that teens use social media as a tool to help them maintain and reinforce their offline identity and relationships, harnessing not only photos, but also the profile and tagging functionalities of the social media platforms they use to do so. Whilst fascinating, this behaviour has worrying implications: children are coming under ever increasing pressure to conform to their peers. The safety of kids online has long been a topic of discussion at events such as these, and will no doubt continue to be so.
3. Did you know that kids have 30,000 taste buds, while adults have a measly 10,000?
This top fact really drove home that kids’ experiences of products and content fundamentally differ those of adults. At FreshMinds, we’ve been doing a great deal of work recently taking ‘inspiration from the edge’ of a consumer group. When it comes to kids, this ‘inspiration from the edge’ is even harder to find, and even more difficult for us as adults to understand. I loved the presentation from BBC Radio 1 Academy and Discovery looking at how they’d worked with a teen called James. James was embedded in the project, and gave the team a consistent real-life and ‘from-the-edge’ teen view of their findings throughout their project by running his own mini-focus groups at his school, and then feeding his findings back to the research team.