What’s happening to our kids?

Roberta Lietti
Client Services Manager
Kantar TNS
Roberta.Lietti@kantartns.com

Changing the conversation for future consumers

No, they haven’t suddenly become Martians! They are the result of an evolutionary process that started long ago and that is changing the essence of being a child.

If we want to understand the consumers of tomorrow, we need to get closer to the youngest generation – those born since 2010 – and understand what is affecting their emotional, cognitive and social development.

Let’s start with some key facts:

  1. Virtual and real are the same biosphere, in continuous dialogue with each other. Kids’ environment is incredibly expanded and fluid, rich and full of infinite possibilities. Time and space have new boundaries; new meanings.
  2. The experience of living is the way kids get into things. Everything is mediated by experience, providing multiple inputs from different environments and languages. This means learning processes are no longer linear but simultaneously blended and immersive. In this sense, it will be appropriate to reconsider the role of emotion and sensory stimulation.
  3. Mobile: what else? For kids, this means being connected all the time, everywhere, and that leads to us considering the individual as a hub of relationships and connections, and less as an isolated individual.
  4. Kids are spending increasing amounts of time indoors and alone. As a result, they are experimenting with new forms of virtual socialization.
  5. They are growing up with a new parenting style that focuses on emotional bonding and enhancement of their talents. That means children are growing up with a high level of self-confidence and a new awareness of their abilities, family roles, society and their mission in life.
  6.  Timetables are full. Children increasingly live according to structured agendas that give rise to a new kind of time period – the gaps between one scheduled activity and the next. These once “dead” times today give kids an opportunity to explore their most instinctive and liberating needs.
  7. True and false are mixed together. It’s difficult to discern the difference and go back  to objective facts. Looking  t the facts that involve today’s children and that affect their development, what can we expect from these children when they become adults? How will brands gain their trust and earn the right to be chosen? How can brands make themselves irresistible?

Today’s children are still growing and evolving, but we can hypothesize about what is likely to be important to them and what will characterize them as consumers.

This generation will be strongly disengaged from the linear processes that earlier generations have grown up with, and that will have an impact on future learning processes, on purchasing paths, on social living. Their way of proceeding will be more associative than logical and sequential. To be relevant, brands will have to create valuable connections for them; to put Nutella in the Saccottino pastries and Smarties in Kinder eggs, because this generation doesn’t understand why brands wouldn’t collaborate and share their values!

We’ll intercept them everywhere and always, because they will have learned to create value at the “interstitial” time, the period that exists between one activity and another.

Emotion and sensory stimulation will have a great influence on the processes of choice: tomorrow’s consumers will buy fewer products but more experiences. It is no coincidence that Airbnb is now adding experiences to its offering, in addition to places to stay.

It will be hard to conquer this generation because it will be difficult to surprise them. But they will be generous thanks to a strong predisposition towards co-creation and constructive collaboration.

For this new consumer, hyperconnected, used to dialogue with the objects that provide them with infinite information in real time, to satisfy any desire, to choose what is best for them, brands will no longer be just fascinating storytellers. They will have to equip themselves with a point of view that they embody and explain.

They will also have to be willing to let themselves be transformed by a consumer who plays with the brand and adds “pieces” of themselves, because the creativity of today’s children does not reside in imagining worlds that do not exist, but in creatively recombining everything that already exists and is available to them. This is the attitude that will define their future.

Finally, it will be increasingly important for brands to become credible and authoritative publishers of their purpose and mission in the world. In the future, trust and reputation will be key elements of consumers’ decision on whether to accept a brand’s proposal.

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