YouthBeat's Youth and Parents Thoughts on Bullying

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 @ 01:30 PM

Here at YouthBeat, we focus not just on the products youth consume, but also on their well-being. Bullying remains a topic of concern for youth and parents, despite programs like the Random Acts of Kindness days and the Kindness Rock Project.

In this climate, brands have the opportunity, if not the responsibility, to encourage pro-social behaviors as well as tell youth stories of caring and kindness.  We asked youth and parents from our YouthBeat survey their thoughts on bullying. The YouthBeat team compiled this factsheet.  

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Download YouthBeat's Fast Facts on Bullying

YouthBeat Celebrates Dad!

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Thu, Jun 15, 2017 @ 02:30 PM

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According to the U.S. Census, 16% of stay-at-home parents are now Dads—more than ever! Even if Dads work outside the home, they love spending time with their kids.

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Kids love any story that involves exploring a frontier—physical or emotional. And who better to have by their side during the exploration than their Dad?

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Modern dads are plugged in to the media their children find so compelling. They stay in touch with old besties on Facebook, and share their ideas, humor, and great food pics on Twitter and Instagram.

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Today’s Dad isn’t a dictator. He discusses purchase decisions with the whole family—including where they will eat out. Everyone has a say.

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When he listens to his kids’ requests for restaurants, Dad hears throwbacks to his own childhood. McDonald’s is still the place his kids ask him to go the most.

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Emotionally in-touch Dads are a reality today. Not only do they try to spend more time with their kids, but they talk about substantive topics.

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Half of dads cling to the way they were raised, and the other half branch out to try new approaches. At YouthBeat®, we call these the “Om” parents—they exhale, let the little things go, and focus on raising good (not entitled) children

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Dads have a tough job today, as always. Their biggest priority is conveying their personal values into their children, and moms agree that this is the toughest and most important part of parenthood.

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Despite the greater number of stay-at-home Dads today, most Dads work outside the home. Work and commuting take a bite out of the time Dads would love to be spending with their families.

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'Fun Dads' are a thing! A third of fathers love playing Mario or other games alongside their children. Today’s Dads don’t have to be stodgy—they can enjoy the pastimes of their youth with their own kids.

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Source: YouthBeat® 2016 (full year)

Tags: dad, kids tweens teens

YouthBeat Celebrates Moms!

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Fri, May 12, 2017 @ 03:53 PM

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The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Moms today are forging a path in a world very different from the one in which they were raised.  And at the same time, some maternal practices and principles are eternal.

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Girl power!  Momming involves a series of decisions that span the mundane (do they HAVE to match their socks?) to the pivotal (which high school will they attend?).  Most moms are at peace with the way they handle them.

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Compared to prior generations, today’s moms are less “helicopter” and more “Om.” They exhale, let go of the small things, and focus on what’s really important in raising their children.

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For her grade-schoolers and middle-schoolers, mom’s most important goal is teaching them to be decent human beings.  It’s the hardest thing she has to do, but well worth the toil.Mothers Day_infographic elements_4.png

 

The Mommy Wars aren’t completely over.  That said, girlfriends will cut each other some slack because they know parenting can be such a challenge today.

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Be it comic books, TV, or the Internet, media has always spurred adult worry about children becoming addicted or ill-influenced.  Most of today’s moms aren’t too worried, but some carry a glimmer of doubt.

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Tags: parents, mom, kids tweens teens, parenting

Youth Marketing Strategy London Takeaways 2017

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Fri, Apr 07, 2017 @ 09:28 AM

The YouthBeat team was recently in London to present findings from YouthBeat Global at the Youth Marketing Strategy conference.  While YouthBeat’s focus is on kids, tweens, teens, and parents, most of the other presenters telescope in on young adults 16-24, given European restrictions on messaging to youngsters.  And there was particular focus on English college freshman who are exploring their identities and open to new brands during the initial transition from their parents’ home to college housing. 

We were intrigued by several of the presentations—our top takeaways were:

“Ticketmaster knows everything about you.”

Big data isn’t brand spanking new anymore, but companies are still exploring how to utilize it to maximize cross-selling and marketing efforts.  Ticketmaster is able to overlay Experian data with its customer records, so anyone who buys tickets with a credit card contributes to the pool of what is known about how such concertgoers behave.  It might sound shocking, but really any company who engages in credit card transactions can buy this kind of data.  We believe they’re using it for purposes of good –  to enhance the experiences, products, and messaging that they offer to today’s consumer.

More than half of Birchbox’s sales are now via mobile device.

The beauty service, which began as mail-order subscription and retail, has moved into the brick + mortar space.  They’ve organized their stores differently from typical beauty retail (which is brand blocked), to a broader focus on product categories.  This allows in-person shoppers to explore all of the mascaras or moisturizers at one time, rather than having to search through each brand for a particular product.  What does this mean for brand loyalty in the future?  We’re not sure, but it is a social foot forward in physical retail spaces.

“1,000 True Fans.”

Hearkening back to Kevin Kelly’s 2008 article about the point of momentum it takes for a musician to have a viable commercial career, start-up brands in every category are embracing this concept.  Even without large marketing budgets, they can form one-to-one social relationships with hardcore fans who will go on to evangelize for them to their own networks.  They don’t necessarily have to be influencers, just people who find a brand that speaks to them, and have the willingness to let their friends know.  We’ve seen this in our teen research in the U.S. also—a highly-paid celebrity endorser has far less credibility and influence than a “regular” person on Instagram who really believes in a product..

“Insights aren’t free.”

This is true—there is a lot of widely available information (including this YouthBeat blog), but generating targeted insights into your brand’s category are usually more complex and delicate than the blunt instruments available online allow.  That’s why it’s important to partner with an insights agency who is intimately familiar with your target consumers or shoppers and knows how to reach them in the way they like to communicate.  It’s worth the investment.

For more information on YouthBeat Global, register for our free webinar on April 27 or reach out to Mary McIlrath at MaryM@crresearch.com.

Tags: youth research, kids, kids tweens teens, millennials, Gen Z

Toy Fair Recon 2017 – Major Trends in the Toy Industry

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Thu, Mar 02, 2017 @ 09:18 AM

The YouthBeat team once again attended Toy Fair in New York, and it was another exciting year!  There’s a lot going on in the toy space, and here are a few of our favorite themes:

  • Danger is fun! Our subscribers have heard us talk about Millennial parents’ greater acceptance of a little bit of risk in their children’s play.  There was no shortage of toys that will feed into this.
    • Our favorite was Fiesty Pets--they look cuddly until their heads are squeezed, then “Rawr!”
    • Marshmallow guns and bows and arrows aren’t exactly new, but they are as prevalent as ever and super fun to play with, even if the child just wants to have a snack.
  • Clean sandbox play. Think of it as an evolution of kinetic sand.
    • Floof (a snow version), Mad Matter (colorful dough to play in), and Sands Alive (snow or sand) all offer the ability to mold and create without getting too sticky or dirty.
  • Bubbles, in any form, never go out of style.
    • Zuru makes large plastic ones that envelop each player, for fun Sumo-style wrestling.
    • Candylicious Bubbles was there with their blow-able and edible bubbles and toys. Yum! 
    • Their parent company, Little Kids, was there with their 25-year-old brand Fubbles and a costumed Fubble giving out free hugs!
  • Mystery and surprise are still thrilling.
    • Half Toys open up to reveal a skeleton inside, which can range from a dinosaur to a human. Perfect for a budding scientist. 
    • Surprizamals are miniature, adorable plushes that are a mystery until opened—and highly collectible.
    • Sourcebooks is offering a range of “How to Catch…” mystical creatures books, including elves, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and new this year, a Leprechaun.
  • Do-gooding is rising to the forefront.  We saw several companies with overt “giving back” components—not necessarily new programs, but more prominently proclaimed than in prior years. 
    • One of our favorites was Bears for Humanity. For every purchase of one of their animals, they donate one to a child in need.
    • United Healthcare Children’s Foundation is another great example. They run a book program in which proceeds from book sales go to grants for families with disabled children (things like a specially equipped ski so the child can ski with his or her family). 
    • Many other companies are using sustainable materials, to “give back” a healthy planet to all children, regardless of whether they use their products.

The exhibition floor contained plenty of drones, robotics, and other electronic toys.  And there is plenty of time for kids to engage with digital entertainment too.  But the toys that really stood out and touched our hearts this year are the ones that offered good old-fashioned fun, excitement, and kindness.

Tags: youth research, toys, kids, kids tweens teens market research, Youth, kids tweens teens, toy trends

2016: The Year in Review of Youth

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Thu, Jan 26, 2017 @ 03:41 PM

Many adults on social media have declared themselves glad to be done with 2016.  For youth and their parents, there were certainly moments of angst and uncertainty, but also moments of inspiration and just plain fun.  A few of the highlights we noted across the year:

American Academy of Pediatrics Changes Recommendations for Screen Time

In our YouthBeat® and YouthBeat® Jr. surveys, parents routinely report 
that preschoolers, kids, and tweens have about 2 hours of screen time a day—which we believe is woefully underreported.  But we know why.  For many years, pediatricians have been telling parents that children under the age of 2 shouldn’t have any TV time, and that older kids should have no more than 2 hours—so that’s what parents tell themselves is happening. Over the last five years, the presence of tablets and smartphones in year in review image 1-1.jpghomes and schools has accelerated, as has the beneficial content available to youth—including not just educational material, but also high-quality entertainment in television programming and online content.  The American Academy of Pediatrics last fall defined “screen time” as only the digital exposure that is entertainment-related.  Schoolwork doesn’t count.  For 2-5 year-olds, the new recommendation is an hour a day, and for 6 year-olds and above, there is no time limit recommendation.  Rather, parents are encouraged to have their children take breaks, spend quality face-to-face time, and help their children understand what high-quality entertainment looks like.  We expect in coming years that parents’ estimates of screen time will increase.

Sea World Announces End of Orca Whale Breeding and Shows

Though spurred by pressure from adults over the breeding and treatment of the marine mammals, the gesture is consistent with what Generation Z expects and demands from the adults who are the custodians of nature.  seaworld.jpgAlong those lines, an 11-year old Michigan boy started a non-profit called Polar Army with the aim of raising awareness of the impact of global warming on the polar bear population.  Some teens even became activists for climate change, suing the federal government for knowing about the threat of climate change for decades, but continuing to endanger the lives of future generations.  They say this limits their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Stay tuned for news from the courts to see what happens—and know that this generation expects adults to be responsible in their use and care of the environment and the human and animal creatures that inhabit it.

Flint, MI Water Crisis Extends Across U.S.

Since the tainted water crisis in Flint became national news in 2015, other municipalities began testing their own water supplies—particularly those in schools.  An alarming number were found to have unsafe amounts of
lead.  So much so that in our YouthBeat Global study, U.S. parents wereelite-daily-flint-michigan-water-crisis-twitter.jpg more likely to encourage their children to drink bottled water (66%) than tap water (57%).  Parents only in Mexico, China, and India were more likely than parents in the U.S. to prefer bottled to tap water.  In late 2016, criminal charges were filed against several local government officials in Flint who allegedly knew of the dangerous water content and did not act to protect the children in their constituencies.  Youth were unable to stand up for themselves as these dangerous waters flowed to them—but the effects of the tainted water could be felt for decades.

Pokémon Go

It’s rated E for Everyone and took the country by storm in the summer of 2016. C+R Research even blogged about the #GottaCatchEmAll craze and why it was a game changer…in the adult world.  For kids, just like adults, it represented a fun way to get out and move around without consciously exercising.  And, when played with parents, it was a great way Pokemon-GO-APK-DOWNLOAD-for-Android-Latest-Version-and-PC.jpgto bond and spend time together. But the parents in our Parentspeak community had mixed feelings about the game. As one mom summed it up, “The 10 year-old wanted to play but I didn’t want her wandering off and getting into places she shouldn’t be, so she entertains herself with other games.” Their concerns were largely around children playing by themselves—parents were happy to allow children to play from the car while driving past Pokémon, or with parental supervision.  Our take at YouthBeat® is that the Pokémon Go craze is perfectly fine for kids to play, with a responsible adult playing alongside.

Colin Kaepernick Takes a Knee

Colin Kaepernik of the San Francisco 49ers made headlines last fall for kneeling during the national anthem before football games.  His actions, in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, caught a lot of backlash on social media as being Anti-American and anti-veteran.  Moreover, in a Yahoo/YouGov poll, a third of NFL fans said they were watching less football than usual, and 40% of them blamed Colin Kaepernick’s protests.  At the same time, he inspired some high school football players to kneel during the national anthem at their own games.  From Seattle to North Carolina, teens followed suit in support of BLM.Colin-Kaepernick.jpg  We’ve written before about the importance of the movement to multicultural youth, as it was inspired by the deaths of African-American children as young as age 12. Kneeling is their way of saying they’re aware, they care, and they are taking sides.

These are just a few of the events that shaped the lives of youth in 2016.  For creators of content and products for youth, 2017 represents a new opportunity to inspire, to entertain, and to delight the youngest consumers.  We look forward to seeing what our youth + family clients provide to support their well-being, and we are here to help.

Tags: youth research, kids, kids tweens teens market research, Youth, kids tweens teens, trends

A New Year, Introducing a New Generation

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 @ 09:29 AM

Here at YouthBeat, we’re always keeping our eyes on the shifting nature of youth generations. We recognize these generations are shaped not just by birth rates and demographic trends, but also by the prevailing characteristics and spirit of the times in which they are born.

Everyone’s read a lot about Millennials.  And many brands have been paying attention to Generation Z for several years now.  But we have some news for you—move over Generation Z, there’s new kids on the block!  Yes, Gen Z is still crucial for brands to understand and create content for – in fact, check out our report.

That leads us to the introduction of Generation Alpha.  Born starting in 2010 (the year the iPad was introduced), they are demographically different from their two preceding generations.

  • The world in which they’re growing up is substantially more technological, accelerating, and crowdsourced.
  • And brands need to start paying attention to them too and incorporate them in their long-term strategies (or now for those who serve preschoolers!).

Click here to download our infographic comparing Millennials, Generation Z, and Generation Alpha. 

And don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions or for more information about how we can help your brand stay on strategy now and for years to come.

Tags: youth research, millennials, Gen Z, generation research, generation alpha

Lessons from The Beginning of Life: Shaping Future Generations

Posted by Manda Pawelczyk on Mon, Dec 19, 2016 @ 01:42 PM

Just before this Thanksgiving, my family welcomed a baby girl into our hearts and home.  As I sat there holding my new niece, I couldn’t help but wonder what this experience of joining our world has been like for her and what I can be doing as an aunt to ensure she grows up with a bright future ahead of her. 

With the long Thanksgiving weekend and thoughts of my new niece, I finally curled up to watch a documentary that had been on my Netflix watch list for months.  The Beginning of Life is a film that documents the early lives of children and their families across the globe, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Italy, Kenya and the United States.  Through interviews with families and specialists from early childhood development, the film depicts how the earliest years of a child’s life may have more of an impact on their future than originally believed.   

Not only is it a beautifully shot film showing some of the most inspiring moments of children interacting with the world around them (I particularly loved the little girl talking to a flower and asking it its name), but it also shares important insight into how we as a society, whether a parent, aunt, grandparent, neighbor, company or organization, can help this youngest generation grow into fruitful human beings.

Here are some of my favorite takeaways from the film:

  1. It is often said that children have a hard time paying attention, but the opposite is actually true – they have a hard time not paying attention. They are very sensitive to all of the patterns of information going on around them.  From an early age, the brain is making between 700-1,000 connections per second. Within a baby’s brain there are many pathways for these neural connections.  The pathways that are used at this age get maintained and strengthened, while the ones that don’t disappear.  We need to think about what we can be doing to make sure as many of these pathways get strengthened as possible.
  2. Children aren’t a blank slate that you just place your knowledge on; rather they learn best through co-developing their knowledge with the people around them. A process called “Serve and Return is where a baby does something and the adult responds.  As the baby gets older they learn to respond back.  It is this back and forth that is critical for brain development.  Think of ways you can help parents turn these small everyday actions into meaningful experiences for growth.
  3. The best way to develop language is through conversation. Instead of answering a child’s question with a simple yes or no, ask them a question back to keep the child engaged in dialogue so their vocabulary grows.  Find ways you can keep conversations flowing, even when life is hectic and busy.
  4. Play is a child’s major vehicle for learning – it is their work and what they are supposed to be doing. But it is important to create interesting contexts for children.  Instead of always giving them a specific or staged setting for play, allow them to be inventive.  A child turning a pen and a ruler into an airplane does more for a child’s development then simply giving them an airplane to play with.  Consider how you can add a dose of inventiveness to your products. 
  5. Rooting is very important for children; they must feel they belong – to life, to a family, to a story, to a place. Grandparents in particular play an important role in rooting as they often are the storytellers, passing on stories of family memories and history. Stories are important as they broaden children’s horizons and give them a sense of belonging.  How can you help children feel more rooted in the world around them?
The best way to help today’s children is by also helping the adults raising them.  Children aren’t raised by social programs but by people.  By investing in these people and giving them the space to spend quality time with their children, that is how we can make sure we build a stronger next generation.

Brands Capitalize on Youth Influencing Parents

Posted by Jane Ott on Thu, Dec 01, 2016 @ 09:37 AM

The more technology proliferates our lives, the more native kids become to any aspect of technology, often putting them in the position of being the in-house “experts” and helping mom and dad with setting up and programming devices.  Combined with Gen Z kids having an increasing say in non-traditional household matters (such as travel and tablets) as we’ve seen in our YouthBeat parents’ data, this generation has been dubbed as “reverse influencers” – they influence their parents just as much as their parents influence them. 

Marketers have been capitalizing on this trend by engaging kids in their advertising from the ground up – influencing parents by giving their kids a role in the marketing game.  It’s not a new concept, engage kids to ask for something to spur parent purchases, or even use kids to market a product not at all related to them.  And, parents hear multiple requests in a day, even in an hour.  So what is it about these marketing campaigns that look different with this generation? 

  • They break away from products that kids traditionally have had influence on
  • They offer parents a new way to connect with their kids and tug at emotional ties by sharing a kids’ point of view of something that parents may take for granted
  • They give kids an opportunity to push boundaries and shine in a grown up world by validating their feelings, dreams, and imaginations
  • They focus on simple tenets of childhood that every kid, and parent, can relate to
  • They take it beyond traditional media into new formats or tie ins with relevant causes to reinforce the message   

What are some of the brands that are doing this well?   Some of our favorites include:

  • Dove’s Love your Curls. This commercial, as well as their related book of poetry and curly hair people emojis reminds us that parents and kids win when we show kids how to love themselves, just as they are:

Tags: advertisment, parents, Youth, TV, marketing, brands

Youth Marketing Strategy Recon

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Wed, Sep 28, 2016 @ 09:57 AM

At YouthBeat, we’ve known Millennials since they were children, and now we are deeply familiar with Gen Z.  Recently, we contributed to Voxburner’s Youth 100 USA Report 2016, the cornerstone of the Youth Marketing Strategy conference in New York.

The conference was a gathering of the finest minds in branding for teens and young adults.  Content focused on understanding the pathos and need states of today’s 16-24 year-old cohort, and celebrating the brands who are successfully creating the products and messaging that touch the hearts of this segment.

In the Youth 100 Report, the brands that rose to the top as favorites (ranked on sentiment) reflect the myriad needs of teens and young adults.  At YouthBeat, our POV is that to be a “favorite,” brands must be, and their marketing must reflect, the core defining emotional drivers of teens and young adults at that time.  We assert that the highest-ranking brands offer these benefits:

  • Instantaneous accessibility
  • A conduit to seemingly infinite content
  • Connection to other people
  • Comfort in a scary modern world

The Top 10 brands who are, this year, pinging the most of these drivers, are:

  1. Amazon
  2. Google
  3. Netflix
  4. YouTube
  5. Oreo
  6. Hershey’s
  7. Target
  8. Amazon Prime
  9. Disney
  10. M&M’s

To download the full report, click here.

 

Tags: Teens, millennials, Gen Z, young adult, marketing, brands