How do brands succeed in emerging markets? By understanding customersthe contours of their lives, the ways they behave, and their needs and desires. And by showing that what they offer can make their customers lives better. Children have always been the largest and most dynamic emerging market on earth. Just as emerging geographical markets move toward economic independence and exploration of possibilities, so do emerging generations.
Whats new is connectivity. Today a childs preferences and identity are shaped not just on the playground but also across an entire digital world of potential interactions and choices.
Something else is sure to emerge tomorrow, but this is whats emerging today: Kids have interactive screens of all kinds, wherever they go. And theyre not passively watching: Theyre choosing what to consume and with whom to engage.
Psychologist and youth marketing consultant James McNeal has written that developed societies are defined by the consumer behavior that informs virtually every activityworking, worshipping, schooling, housekeeping, playing and more.
Additionally, McNeal sees the development of consumer behavior as closely linked to our sense of self and presentation. Children as young as 2 identify with brands.
Eager To Learn Shouldnt Mean Easy to Exploit
Many laws and self-regulatory organizations prohibit ads that exploit the credulity of children. For example, the International Chamber of Commerce prohibits advertising that undermines established social values, or exploits inexperience or credulity, or encourages activities that can be harmful, or suggests that a product conveys physical, psychological, or social advantages.
Anyone who has ever been pestered by a child or teenager to buy something will recognize these as sensible rulesbut also that they dont resolve everything. Today, supervision of children is much more difficult, as marketers have the power to create highly personalized and interactive experiences. With a smartphone or tablet, children can download apps, play games, and share personal information with friends and marketers alikeall without Moms approval or even her knowledge.
Some brands have exploited this interactivity. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission reports that most mobile apps aimed at kids fail to provide any information about what personal data is collected and how it is used. Many collect information such as device ID, geo-location, and phone number, and many contain interactive features such as advertising, in-app purchases, and social media linksall without any disclosure to parents.