Children are just children at the end of the day - laughing, crying, playing, juggling between home, school and extra classes or tuitions. In a day and age when time is a precious commodity and most adults seem to be packing in a 48-hour schedule into 24 hours, where does that leave those little ones who have their own foibles and quibbles? Parallely, with a surfeit of information and an ever-increasing list of brands clamouring for a child's attention, how is he or she reacting to this media blitzkrieg? What motivates, drives or influences the new-age tween?
To understand this and more, MCI (that is, Media Consumer Insights), a specialist arm of the WPP group, conducted an in-depth study among parents of children in the pre-teen category across the Asia-Pacific or APac region in the month of October (the study essentially targets upmarket kids). The objective apart from understanding what motivates children was to identify "key factors influencing their consumer behaviour in order to generate actionable insights for marketing and communication", states Arjun Ghosh, manager, analytics, ATG-MCI.
Respondents were contacted over email and asked to fill a structured online questionnaire, says Ghosh. "The sample size was in excess of 600," he adds.
A key finding of the study was an increased homogeneity in the attitudes of children across the APac region. Most importantly, a kid's buying behaviour is highly influenced by his or her immediate peer group as opposed to parents and siblings.
"Seventy-two per cent of the respondents at the regional level felt their child or children decided their purchases based on what their friends said," says Ghosh. In India, however, peer group pressure was second to advertising on TV, standing at 68 per cent to TV's influence at 77 per cent. "Television has the highest impact on kids in India vis-à-vis other countries in the region," says Ghosh.
With regard to pocket money, 54 per cent of the respondents at the regional level give a fixed allowance to their children while the figure stands at 36 per cent in India, indicating that Indian parents are less inclined to give pocket money to their children. Indeed, Indian parents are keen to strike the right balance between overindulgence and autocracy, states Ghosh. "Any product/communication targeting kids cannot ignore or alienate their parents, since it is the adults who finally decide the purchase for most categories and hold the purse strings," he points.
Interestingly, children in India are less inclined to save money for a future purchase with 26 per cent respondents saying that their children spend their weekly allowance. In the rest of the region, the figure stood at 14 per cent, indicating that children abroad have a higher propensity to save and budget their expenses.
When it comes to a child's purchases at the end of day, the clear favourites are toys and sweets though Indian kids are skewed towards eatables in comparison to their South-East Asian counterparts who prefer clothes, cassettes and CDs. Computer games as a purchase item are half as popular among Indian kids, states Ghosh. "This gap could come down as home computer penetration increases," he adds.
All in all, the implication for marketers, according to Ghosh, is to address the "dual" parent/child audience apart from utilising peer groups and contagious spending patterns among children. "The latter could play a part in consumer promo design," he says.
Imperative also is the need to identify kid's icons in a scenario where the child's looks up to his peer group very often. "Building promotions and communications around the latest fad will work with this audience though it is important to gauge the flavour of the month," he adds. Â© 2003 agencyfaqs!