Tween Brand Loyalty Keyed By Parental Approval

by | 3 minute read

Nin­ten­do DS, Wii, Oreo, and McDonald's top the list of most-loved brands among 6–12 year olds, accord­ing to mar­ket­ing agency Smar­ty Pants' "Young Love" report on the 100 most loved brands among kids aged 6–12. The report sep­a­rates well-known brands, such as Nintendo's DS and Wii, that are strong­ly iden­ti­fi­able on their own.Consumer Spending logo

Accord­ing to the report — which encom­pass­es more than 260 con­sumer brands across 20 cat­e­gories — kids in this age group grav­i­tate towards icon­ic, famil­iar, inclu­sive, and parent-approved brands. "Inter­est­ing­ly, the lead dri­ver of cross-category affin­i­ty among kids is  age-appropriateness  Safe, easy, per­mis­si­ble con­tent are what dri­ve kid (and mom) appeal," says Smar­ty Pants' Wynne Tyree.

Cross-generational appeal is impor­tant. "Kid affin­i­ty and par­ent affin­i­ty are high­ly cor­re­lat­ed because kids want their par­ents' approval and engage­ment, and par­ents want their kids to be hap­py," she says. "Brands that allow fam­i­lies to con­nect are stronger over­all; it's why non-polarizing brands like Cray­ola, Dis­ney and Wii rise to the top." Afford­abil­i­ty is also a top 10 dri­ver of kid affin­i­ty since it "increas­es the like­li­hood you can buy it with your own mon­ey or your mom will buy it for you."

The study also helps demys­ti­fy "kid cool".  Amongst kids and tweens, cool is not an elu­sive phe­nom­e­non based in play­ground or cafe­te­ria buzz and aspi­ra­tion. "[Kids and tweens] con­nect cool to aes­thet­ics and func­tion­al­i­ty. They don't define it based on what oth­ers feel or do. iPod is not cool because lots of peo­ple have one; it's cool because the actu­al device is visu­al­ly appeal­ing and fas­ci­nat­ing to kids," says Tyree.

Key tac­tics brands can employ to raise their pro­file among 6–12-year olds:
Empow­er­ment. It's impor­tant to offer a vari­ety of options with­in your brand. From Dori­tos fla­vor vari­eties to online game choice, options lead to kids' feel­ing of con­trol and oppor­tu­ni­ties for cus­tomiza­tion. "Sub­way is a great exam­ple of how to win with tweens-they get to cus­tomize every com­po­nent of theirmeal, shift­ing the pow­er from mom in the front seat to kid at the counter," says Tyree.

Focus On Prod­uct Design. "Kids know what high qual­i­ty looks and feels like, and they are drawn to brands that look great, func­tion well, prod­uct inter­ac­tiv­i­ty and have some wow fac­tor," says Tyree. While kid adver­tis­ing does enhance brand affin­i­ty, it's the prod­ucts that either delight or fall short.

Deliv­er news with­in brand. Kids grav­i­tate to famil­iar brands they can trust. News or inno­va­tion from a tried-and-true brand fairs bet­ter than the cre­ation of a new brand. "The per­cep­tion is that kids and tweens aren't brand loy­al and that they brand hop to sat­is­fy their desires for nov­el­ty.  In fact, famil­iar brands offer a ‘guar­an­tee' to kids; and with­in brand inno­va­tion gives them rea­sons to stay engaged," says Tyree.

Speak to the whole fam­i­ly. Invite the whole fam­i­ly to the brand par­ty by deliv­er­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions and cues that assure both par­ents and kids that your brand was designed for them.  "Kid mes­sag­ing works, but parent-directed com­mu­ni­ca­tion ensures avail­abil­i­ty and access, which ulti­mate­ly dri­ve affin­i­ty for both par­ents and kids. It's pos­si­ble to cre­ate win­ning brands that have no direct-to-kids adver­tis­ing, as evi­denced in brands like Oreo."

Smar­ty Pants, Wynne Tyree, Pres­i­dent, 14 Dove Tree Ln., Jones­bor­ough, TN 37659.  Phone: 203–847-5766.  Email:  Web­site:  www​.asks​mar​ty​pants​.com.