What You Need to Know About Marketing to Kids This Holiday Season



What You Need to Know About Marketing to Kids This Holiday Season

Written by: Stephanie Bariatti, Programmatic Consultant


Here we are again, heading full-throttle into the holiday season.  Though it may not be the most wonderful time of the year for your personal wallet, it may be a great time for your business to capitalize on the biggest spending months of the year.  And while holiday shopping lists include gifts for friends and family of all ages, it is undeniable that much of the hoopla is centered on the children in our lives.  So how do you best reach this huge group, who know EXACTLY what they want, but are more or less relying on Santa to deliver the goods? 

For starters, you need to figure out who “Santa” really is.  Well, most often it is Mom and Dad.  And the Mom and Dad are certainly shelling it out.  According to T. Rowe Price’s 2018 Parents, Kids and Money Survey, conducted on parents of 8-14 year olds, 45% of parents try to get everything on their kids’ wish lists, no matter the cost.  Some are even tapping into savings and going into debt to finance the splurge.

Yet, Sarah Martinez, VP and retail industry lead at Oath, explains for WWD how millennial parents specifically should be the main focus for the 2018 holiday season.  A large portion of Millennials have matured.  “Last year 40 percent of Millennials were reported to be parents — that’s 32 million moms and dads. According to the NRF, Millennial parents are more educated than parents in other generations and are more likely to have above-average household incomes,” she says. 

This demographic tends to overwork, yet still strives to spend as much family time as possible, creating a very busy schedule.  Therefore, retailers’ marketing strategies need to be useful, convenient, efficient and digitally savvy.  Many millennial parents are making purchases during the workday, so the timing of promotional emails or coupons could be effective.  Martinez also offers insight into the way Millennials become increasingly loyal to brands as they age and start families, and the building of that relationship needs to be done in a unique way.  To summarize, she says, “Look to exceed Millennial parent needs by offering utility, set trends with innovative campaigns, build trust with premium content and elevate experiences with new ad formats, throughout the funnel.”

In addition, marketers should broaden their plans to include the many other iterations and members of the modern family.  While those in the ad biz have long known this, there is a sizeable segment with spending power that advertisers can no longer afford to ignore.  Known as PANK’s (Professional Aunt No Kids), these women are non-moms who have meaningful relationships with nieces, nephews or other children who are important to them.  It is estimated that one in five women fall into this category.

Melanie Notkin, author of Otherhood and founder of Savvy Auntie, coined the term “PANK” and was involved in two studies that revealed a wealth of information on the shopping and spending habits of PANKS.  In 2014, Devries Global Public Relations published the report, “Shades of Otherhood: Marketing to Women without Children” and in 2012, Notkin with Weber Shandwick and KRC Research published the report, “The Power of the PANK.”  It was found that yearly, PANKS spend an average of $387 on each child in their lives, with 76% spending more thank $500 per child.  That amounts to a total of  $9 billion!  PANKS shop more than moms on a weekly basis, have a higher rate of full-time employment than the average woman and are more connected on social media than the average woman.  Trying to foster a unique relationship with this powerful demographic during the holidays should be a no-brainer for marketers.

Now, let’s talk about real marketing to kids for a moment.  They are buying gifts during the holidays too.  66% of children purchasing presents are actually using their own cash and 34% are using their parents’, according to T. Rowe Price’s 2017 Parents, Kids and Money Survey.  So holiday time is a prime chance to reach them.  Not only do they have influence over the purchases their parents make, but establishing a connection at a young age could spark a lifetime of brand loyalty.

   One of the fastest growing methods of engaging with kids is influencer marketing.  According to PwC’s Kids Digital Advertising Report 2017, the under-13 digital media market is currently seeing 25% year-on-year growth.  Social media sites and most notably, YouTube, have endless videos and content creators who are reaching millions of children.  When brands include a preteen or teen, aka “kidfluencer,” promoting their products, a winning recipe is created.  Whether it’s an unboxing video, tutorial or vlog, nobody can relate to kids better than other kids.  Yet, experts caution brands to be ethically responsible when creating kidfluencer content.  They should find a way to gain parents’ trust and keep them engaged alongside the kids.

            When it comes to older kids, namely Gen Z (16-22 year olds), there are also specific ways to best reach this potentially lucrative generation.  These young folks have their own opinions/input and possibly their own small income to start spending.  Those who are part of Gen Z are definitely receptive to influencers, as mentioned above, but Retail Dive’s Cara Salpini also advises retailers to tell a story.   This is the generation that has grown up with social media, so they are used to, and also prefer, visual forms of emotional storytelling.  In addition, retailers should promote unique, personalized gift options.  Gen Z’ers don’t need a one-stop shop; they prefer to see stores promoting what they specialize in.  They also respond well to approaches taken by Best Buy and Sephora, wherein a knowledgeable salesperson can help deliver a personalized shopping experience. 

            So let’s recap:

·      Parents are the most obvious targets for holiday gift giving to children, especially Millennial parents.

·      PANKs are one of the most underserved segments of marketing efforts towards kids.  And let’s just take a moment here to give a shout-out to all the PUNKs (Professional Uncle No Kids) who I know are out there as well.

·      Influencers and Kidfluencers have a great impact on sending brand messages to children.

·      Older teens are best reached through storytelling and personalized experiences via digital technologies.

No matter where you or your business falls on the spectrum of holiday

gifting, it is always important to remember to be creative, open-minded and calm in order to best strategize during this hectic time of year.  That frame of mind is truly the gift that keeps on giving. 

Stephanie Bariatti works as a Consultant and Project Manager for SMB Media Consulting.  She has had extensive experience with many facets of advertising and media, having worked for and with creative agencies, production companies and research departments.  She lives in New York with her wonderful husband, two lovable little boys and two snuggly Golden Retrievers.