Pearls of Wisdom: Millennials vs. Gen Z Edition

Posted by Manda Pawelczyk on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 @ 10:30 AM

Pearls of Wisdom: Millennial vs. Gen Z Edition

Spring is graduation season – a time of caps, gowns, diplomas, and graduation speeches, where speakers pass down ‘wisdom’ to the graduates. Today’s high school graduates are members of Generation Z, so we wanted to dive deeper into the advice they are receiving on this major milestone, what that means for the overall attitudes and behaviors of this generation, and how that differs from the graduating classes that came before them. 

This is a generation that lived through the downturn of the economy. They have watched parents, older siblings, and other members of their community struggle. While Millennials grew up believing the world was their oyster, Gen Zers take a more practical approach – understanding that life won’t always be rosy and that it will take hard work and sacrifices to reach their goals. Through the years, we have seen a shift in the most popular high school commencement speeches – from a tone of hope and optimism to one of realism.   

Words of wisdom to Millennials:

Bill Clinton, Sidwell Friends School, 1997
“We celebrate your passage into the world in a hopeful time for our Nation and for people throughout the world. For the first time in history, more than half of all the world's people live free, under governments of their own choosing. The cold war has given way to the information age, with its revolutions in technology and communications and increasingly integrated economies and societies. Scientific advances and a growing global determination to preserve our environment give us hope that the challenges of the 21st century can be met in ways that will permit us to continue the advance of peace and freedom and prosperity throughout your entire lives.”

Doug Marlette, Durham Academy, 2005
“There is hope. And today is the beginning, Square One, for all of you…Ease up on yourselves. Have some compassion for yourself as well as for others. There’s no such thing as perfection, and life is not a race.”

Ray Sidney, Edwin O. Smith High School, 2007
“Know that with hard work you can achieve great goals, but also know that there’s more to life than just your career. If all you ever do is work, you will regret it.  You will look back on your life, and no matter how much you have accomplished, you will wish that you had lived differently. Play time and family time and sleep time are all necessary for you to recharge yourself, to keep yourself from burning out, to get perspective on what you’re doing and what your life means, and to get good ideas for the future.”

Jonathan Youshaei, Deerfield High School, 2009
“We also hold the power to turn our dreams into reality, which is another part of achieving 7/7ths. But at 18 years young, it’s hard to know what your dream is. Sure, some of us may know what we want to do in life, but even those people may find a new inspiration along the way. So for the many of us still trying to figure out what we want to do, just give it time, and you’ll find your dream or maybe it’ll find you. And when you find that dream, you gotta get after it, protect it, and dare to be idealistic. Just like with failure, though, society has turned us against that word — idealism. But make no mistake about it; we desperately need more idealistic thinkers in the world today.”

Said to those on the cusp of the two generations:

David McCullough Jr., Wellesley High School, 2012
“You are not special.  You are not exceptional.  Contrary to what your u9 soccer trophy suggests…you’re nothing special.  You see, if everyone is special, then no one is.  If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless…we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement.  We have come to see them as the point — and we’re happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that’s the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole.  No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it…Now it’s “So what does this get me?”  As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans.” 

And the graduation messages given to Generation Z:

Michelle Obama, Santa Fe Indian School, 2016
“Now, I know that perhaps I’m asking a lot of all of you. And I know that sometimes all those obligations might feel like a heavy burden. I also know that many of you have already faced and overcome challenges in your lives that most young people can’t even begin to imagine—challenges that have tested your courage, your confidence, your faith, and your trust.

But, graduates, those struggles should never be a source of shame—never—and they are certainly not a sign of weakness. Just the opposite. Those struggles are the source of your greatest strengths. Because by facing adversity head on and getting through it, you have gained wisdom and maturity beyond your years.”

Larssa Martinez, McKinney Boyd High School, 2016
“Let me be frank.  I am not going to stand up here and give you the traditional Hallmark version of a valedictorian speech.  Instead I would like to offer you a different kind of speech. One that discusses expectations versus reality…When people see me standing up here, they see a girl who is Yale bound, and who seems to have her life figured out.  But that is far from the whole truth.  So at this time, if I may, I would like to convey my fair share of realities.”

The messages given during graduation ceremonies are just one of the ways we have seen a shift in the way that Millennials and Generation Z think and act. If you would like to find out more about how Generation Z and Millennials differ, Mary McIlrath will be presenting a retrospective look at both generations at the Marketing to Generation Z Conference in New York on July 20, 2016. You can click here to register attend the conference! If you plan to attend, let us know so we can give you our sponsor discount code!

Tags: Education, youth research, school, millennials, Gen Z, generation research, high school, graduation

Making Endorsements Count

Posted by Amy Henry on Tue, Feb 04, 2014 @ 01:39 PM

Every January, the American Library Association announces the winners of some of the biggest awards in children’s and young adult literature.  These awards are given for excellence in children’s books (John Newbery Award), illustration (Randolph Caldecott Award), young adult literature (Michael Printz Award), African-American children’s literature (Coretta Scott King Award), and much more.  But the way these awards operate in the children’s literature space suggest lessons that a broader group of marketers and content creators can tap into.american library association

In any category, it’s safe to assume that winning a major award increases sales. In the case of children’s literature, public libraries and schools see a medal on the cover as an endorsement of the author (for the unknowns) or as a reason to expand their collection of favorites.  These awards and honors serve as insurance policies on the product’s quality, and also convey secondary but critical information about age-appropriateness. In a 2004 study conducted by Gundry E. Rowe, in which he surveyed public and school librarians, he found that nearly all the librarians bought award winning titles without even looking at plot summaries.  In the extremely competitive marketplace for children’s books, winning an award can take a book from a few sales to hundreds of thousands.  Certainly, libraries and schools look for materials to buy in a different way than parents, but these expert buyers and children’s lit curators create the selection set for moms, dads, aunts and uncles, and children themselves. In other categories, award winners are often a searchable category on online websites. For example, yoyo.com includes their “yoyo picks” but also lets buyers sort by Dr. Toy’s endorsements. With so many options available, these awards feel like a soft exertion of authority which moms and dads welcome. 

In the children’s literature space, winning a major award propels authors to top status, signifying them as master craftsmen. An award can turn an unknown into a key player and force within a specific market. Long before Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are (1964) was a classic children’s book, it was a Caldecott Award winner in 1964.  The award gave Sendak, and his artwork, a boost in popularity.  Today, Sendak’s artwork is an important part of many children’s lives, and the image of Max and the Wild Things is a part of children’s culture. 

What lessons can we take from looking carefully at the ALA Awards?

  • Endorsement matter. Even for a cohort of moms that might not believe that there’s one source of expertise in any category, they seek out ways to distinguish quality products from simply popular one.
  • Remember to recognize the influencers. While understanding consumer preference is harder than ever in an age with so many property and content possibilities, remember that experts from unexpected places might be more influential than ever. Make sure you have a plan to connect with them.
  • While awards might, on the surface, say more about parent preferences than kids’ requests, they also suggest a glimpse at the marketplace. Even if kids are empowered to make their own choices, they are still limited to the subset of goods that adults allow them to access.

Tags: Education, book, free time, culture, youth media

Self-Publishing Teens: Raw Insight and Untapped Talent

Posted by Amy Henry on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 @ 04:21 PM

Self-publishing isn’t new, but over the past few years, more and more writers have been publishing their work online (E. L. James’ 50 Shades of Gray was originally self-published and Hugh Howey’s Wool saga remains one of Amazon’s top-selling ebooks). 

Book AuthorIt’s no surprise that teens, who have grown up in a crowd-sourced, content-sharing culture, are now getting in on self-publishing.  If a teen is one of the 97% who have access to the Internet, he or she can freely publish and sell novels, poems, and short stories.  Recently, a teenage girl sold her Young Adult novel to Random House and the publisher plans to release more of her books in the future. 

Certainly, not all teens write, or even read for pleasure, so what makes self-publishing so relevant? First, these self-publishing sites and spaces, like Amazon Digital Services, provide a place where truly new ideas can be considered. Many of the hottest YA titles over the past few years were written by teenagers, making it clear that the world of self-publishing is a perfect place to find untapped talent and ideas.  Paying attention to the self-publishing world might provide you with a front row seat to the next batch of powerful youth properties.

While we wouldn’t advocate assuming that the teens who self-publish are “representative” of all teens, the titles that other teens gravitate towards will tell you something about the reads that resonate with this group. Without the intervention of editors and traditional booksellers, these self-published works reveal the kinds of stories and topics that truly interest teens and that might be currently missing from the market.  And teens not only write their own novels, but they design their own covers and market their work. How they package their stories suggests both how they perceive marketing, but also allows us to see an aesthetic that’s generated cultivated by teens themselves.  According to librarian Amy Pelman, the self-publishing trend not only shows a lot of potential in terms of sales, but it also allows teens to produce and read books without adults. 

Exploring the stories of self-publishing provides access to talented teenagers who are creative and innovative, whose ideas are fresh and unique, and who are producing material they can’t seem to find elsewhere.  These books, and the world they inhabit, provide insight into what teens currently like and what they are starting to think about for the future.

Tags: Education, book, Youth, Teens, trends, tweens

Giving Back at the Beginning

Posted by Amy Henry on Fri, Jan 10, 2014 @ 01:27 PM

We often hear about great causes and organizations at the end of the year. But since kids, tweens, and teens don’t care about tax write-offs, we see little reason why January 1st can’t be the start of their support of people, places and products/brands/companies that are making a difference! We know that this group of youth care about the world outside their neighborhood more than ever. They feel connected to others through many means. And they are prepared to solve the world’s biggest problems in ways that we might not always notice, but that, nonetheless, make them one of the most entrepreneurial generations ever to walk the earth! The organizations below sometimes include youth, but often serve their needs. Either way, we think these organizations deserve some recognition and also provide some valuable lessons for youth marketers.

Capes for Kids

We believe in kid empowerment, and certainly, no kids need or deserve to feel like superheroes more than kids who are sick. The Hero Project, which provides pediatric in-patients with customized superhero capes, understands that visible symbols of strength can go a long way towards making kids feel better, or at least braver in the face of unthinkable challenges. This group recognizes that one way to catalyze donations is by getting donors to give of their creativity, not just their money, as they encourage groups of friends, family members, etc. to get together and create capes as a collective.

Project Night NightProject Night Night

For victims of homelessness, having a snuggly toy or a care package offers more than just physical comfort – it gives a glimmer of hope and assurance that they matter. Project Night Night creates Night Night packages designed for children under five years old, “who can’t articulate their concerns overcome the anxiety, emotional and mental stress that comes with home displacement.” The project also offers a secondary benefit – keeping slightly used toys out of landfills. Project Night Night reminds us that there’s no place like home for small children, and when it’s not a safe space, kids need significant signs and symbols of well-being to help them carry on.

Room to Grow

The first “100 days” of a child’s life are incredibly important to their cognitive, social and emotional development. Room to Grow assists women living in poverty by providing them and their children with resources they need, including baby gear and clothing, along with an actual place where they can find support and community. This idea grew from the notion that many moms have baby gear that they didn’t want to go to waste. We think this is a great example of an organization that responded to an asset and found a deserving group of moms who needed it. This makes us wonder, who could benefit from the gifts your organization has to offer? How will you give with authenticity and integrity?

Imagination Library

Who knew Dolly Parton would make our list of kid philanthropists in 2014? We think her idea – to provide preschoolers with a specially selected book, via mail, each month - is both ahead of its time, but also taps into many timeless truths about youth. First, getting something in the mail might make kids feel more special than ever before! A physical book can still feel like a gift to a child who has few. And bringing good-for-you content to kids is more effective than expecting them to come to you. We love this idea, which began in Tennessee, but is reaching the rest of the country rapidly.    

Donors Choose

Many of us are lucky enough to live in places with great schools, and almost all of us can remember a teacher who went above and beyond. You’ve likely seen statistics about the amount of money that teachers spend out of their own pockets to make their children’s learning environments live up to their own, and to kids’ expectations. Donors Choose also solves a frequently cited dilemma about non-profits – people often want to act locally, but most organizations that they can easily find are more national or global. But on the website, you might even find a well-deserving school or classroom close-by that you can help in other ways than just donating your time. And everyone loves a thank you – which the teachers and students agree to send to supporters of their cause. Speaking from experience, there’s nothing more gratifying that receiving a card created by a grateful teacher and appreciative kids after providing them with something that truly enhances their learning environment.

Teens Turning Green

There’s no question that kids, tweens and teens are capable of compassion. But what we like about teens Turning Green is its competitive spirit! Games and contests (not of the random winner variety) appeal to youth who are often up to challenges. Like dieting (speaking of New Year’s resolutions), doing good is often easier when it involved a few friends. And these events – like a 30 day sustainability challenge or a “green your dorm room” contest - are also chic. It’s no surprise – this organization isn’t run by adults for kids, but was actually founded by students striving to change the world.

In 2014, we think youth brands can give as much as they get. We recommend you follow the lead (and fuel the good work) these organizations are doing – let’s begin!

Tags: Education, Social Issues, Youth, culture, youth media

Amy Henry Announced as a Speaker at the Digital Kids Summit

Posted by Amy Henry on Tue, Jul 23, 2013 @ 02:45 PM

digital kids summitAmy Henry, Vice President Youth Insights, will be presenting, “Understanding App Value from Parent’s Perspective” at this year’s Digital Kids Summit. The summit, the must-attend event for brand owners, entertainment and media executives, marketers, producers, digital media directors and licensing professionals seeking to engage children online and on digital devices, will take place on September 19 in San Francisco.

During this presentation Henry reveals what parents of preschoolers through tweens see as “value” in the apps they allow their children to use. She’ll also explore the role kids play on the influence of app purchases. Along the way, Henry will bash some myths and unveil the new truths about parents’ relationship to apps today.

To attend the conference there are multiple registration options: go to Digital Kids Summit or Digital Kids Edu  for more information on both events as well as possible multi-even registration discounts.

View the Digital Kids Summit Speakers page to learn more.

Tags: Education, youth research, digital drugs, culture

Kids, Tweens, Teens On-the-Field Talking-Trash

Posted by Amy Henry on Wed, Jul 03, 2013 @ 09:23 AM

200225711 001Sports might be one of our favorite topics at YouthBeat – we’ve written about the Olympics and sportsmanship, soccer and head-related injuries, LeBron James and loyalty (from kids’ perspective) and more. We’ve also written about the state of sportsmanship in a blog on winning and on discussions of Silent Saturdays (a designated day in which soccer parents and coaches are asked to keep quiet on the sidelines) , the shifting role of the sports dad in conference presentations and in our YearBook. So, naturally, we felt compelled to weigh in on New Jersey’s recent decision to treat teens’ on-the-field trash-talking as a Civil Rights violation.

The new rules enforced by the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association and the State’s Attorney General require that “obscene gestures, profanity or unduly provocative language or action toward officials, opponents, or spectators” be reported to the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights. The rules fall under New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act and make it clear that the Act extends not only to locations outside of school (as originally stipulated) but specifically to the fields and courts where high school athletes play.

While educators and coaches will likely debate about how to enforce this Act, it’s likely that another debate will soon surface: whether a ban on trash-talking shows consistency and sensitivity or an over-regulating of children’s lives. Put another way, is “handling” trash-talking something that marks a mature athlete (i.e., one who can block out distracting fans or competitors’ chatter) or is on-field harassment as dangerous and damaging as a vicious Facebook campaign or a taunt in the school hallways?

In full disclosure, I should reveal having partaken in some trash-talking in my day. Some of my most bitter rivals from my soccer playing days were both the subjects of my in-game goads, and, years later, bridesmaids in my wedding! A few are neighbors whose kids play with my kids on the playground. For all of us, trash-talking was part of the game and it was easily forgiven after the fact.

But for today’s youth, bullying isn’t something that they’re permitted to accept as being part of childhood. Today’s youth know that words can be weapons, and weapons whose cuts can last. So it seems increasingly difficult to identify places where verbal punches should be seen as permissible. And while adult athlete might temporarily cringe at the sanitizing of sports in this way, it’s hard to argue that respecting others should stop once you walk on to the place where, for those same athletes, the goal is to be one’s best self.

Tags: Education, bullying, Sports, free time, school

Great Kid, Tween and Teen Experiences: Lessons from a Summer Vacation

Posted by Amy Henry on Wed, Jun 26, 2013 @ 01:40 PM

Last week, I took a family vacation with my husband and two sons. I managed to abandon my email and phone for seven surreal days, but couldn’t keep my YouthBeat hat completely off! This family-focused resort revealed more than a few lessons on how to create great family experiences that cater to kids, tweens, teens and parents alike.   Family Travel

  1. Make them work! Okay, this might not sound like part of the formula for a great vacation, but it’s an element of the family experience that is often overlooked. Many of the most fun moments parents and kids spend together involve a little bit of risk and a few tough challenges – that great white water rafting trip, the time your family dressed up in funny costumes and won a prize, or a ride on a zipline or a swing on a trapeze. Great family experiences are often centered around constructive competition, fearless feats and valiant victories. When families push themselves together, they grow together. Do your products or experiences promote productive fun?
  2. Give each their own. Each family has their own unique equation that constitutes the correct mix of “parent only” time and “all together” time. Great family resorts offer options. Kids, tweens or teens can check in at the “kid club” but also engage in family game night. A movie under the stars can be the perfect time for bonding or a chance for parents to leave their little ones with their friends in their PJs. Parents can take pilates while tweens take part in beach Olympics. This sense of choosing when to be together, with breaks for personal passions make family vacations (and experiences) feel fulfilling for all involved. And keep in mind that a great family moment sometimes involves other families! Most often, great family vacations involve meeting kids, tweens or teens from somewhere new. They can involve socializing for parents, too.  So don’t think that families only want to focus on each other when they’ve opted in for an all-together event. Do your all-family spaces encourage mingling? Would your customers expect to find like-minded moms and dads in their midsts?
  3. Stay silly! Let’s face it – families are funny! And when it comes to all-age vacations, it’s pretty tough to capture “cool” in a way that feels right for kids, tweens and teens. But even while humor differs with age and gender, creating an environment where youth and families feel free to be silly is a surefire way to keep the mood light and to bridge the generation gap. The same holds for family brands. Families are much more likely to understand that getting together can be goofy. And it’s a relief to release parents and youth from their need to look like they have their act together – especially when they’re on an escape from the everyday. Do your all family experiences or products act as outlets for silliness?
  4. Celebrate youth realities, not fantasies. Of course, family vacations can and should be the stuff of dreams – pristine beaches, characters come to life, etc. But the best family experiences are ones that meet kids, tweens and teens where they are. In other words, they don’t try to convert them or counter their natural tendencies. Making the teen club a lounge off the beaten path makes more sense than insisting that adolescents acclimate to adult spaces. Giving kids breaks versus wondering why they can’t keep up. And eliminating waiting and lines whenever possible keeps kids coming back for more. Are there ways to make your space feel more understanding of youth? Are you hiring people who embrace the quirks and foibles of real kids, tweens and teens, or simply hope they are someone that they’re not?
  5. Make it healthy – with a dose of sprinkles! The old model of family fun had parents and youth indulging with reckless abandon – eating without inhibition, lounging versus lunging. But today’s fit families (featured in our June/July/August issue of the YouthBeat TrendSpotter) are most satisfied when they can feel good about their good times. That might mean getting a workout while they get moving with their families. Or finding food that makes them happy and healthy at the same time. And finally, it can mean giving back while getting to enjoy a new place. Even the most indulgent experiences can leave kids and families feeling better at the end. Are there ways to build your fun family experiences on the foundation of mental, physical or spiritual fitness?

Wherever your family spends the summer, enjoy! And tell us what lessons you’ve learned from quality time away with the kids!

Tags: Education, play, outside, free time, kids tweens teens, culture, parenting

Scripps’ Spell

Posted by Amy Henry on Thu, May 30, 2013 @ 03:51 PM

Spelling BeeTonight at 8 pm, families around the country will turn on ESPN to watch a hard fought final among a group of seasoned competitors. They’ve trained, they’ve endured, and now they will spell. It’s the highly anticipated final round of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

What makes this event so mesmerizing?

  • Kids take center stage. Kids might have many opportunities to see themselves on television, but not often do they see a group of seemingly ordinary kids (not actors, not stage kids) rise to the occasion.
  • They all have a story...Just like Olympics coverage, which turns unknowns into bearers of epic narratives, the producers of the Scripps Spelling Bee showcase the heroic in its kid competitors, and importantly, its parent patrons.
  • Everyone has a shot. There’s no denying that the kind of perseverance and pure stamina required to learn so many words, and the ability to recall them from their memory on a stage gleaming with hot lights and audience feedback is a talent, the Scripps National Spelling Bee might make kids (and families) feel that anything is possible. Unlike athletes or singers that they’re used to seeing in the spotlight, these kids shine simply because they did their best – something parents promote and kids hope pays off the way they’ve been told it would. In a world in which sports have become more exclusive and elusive than ever, learning to spell seems possible regardless of a child’s shape or size.
  • It’s good clean fun. More and more, families seek out shows they can co-view together. Talent competitions have certainly scratched the itch for many…But they also include the risk of a rogue contestant who doesn’t take family entertainment to heart. And these marathon seasons require more commitment than many families can make. In one night, the Scripps National Spelling Bee captures the drama of an entire series. And what’s not to like about kids who have earned their way to the stage through studying…
  • There’s drama! Let’s be clear…Spelling wouldn’t be televised like a sporting event if there weren’t for some drama! The reality of the Scripps Spelling Bee makes it memorable and mesmerizing for parents and youth…These contestants will cheer, and probably shed a tear. Their precociousness will come off as endearing, and exhausting, sometimes in the same breath. And kids and parents will negotiate their understanding of these extraordinary kids together…

Tune in and let us know your favorite moments! We’ll be watching…

Tags: Education, youth research, TV, youth media, news

Five Ways to Make Earth Day Fun

Posted by Amy Henry on Mon, Apr 22, 2013 @ 03:50 PM

Celebrate Earth DayHappy Earth Day to all our YouthBeat friends! Youth’s involvement in the environmental movement is, in some ways, both a timely and a timeless topic. Children and nature have been indelibly bonded in literature, social history and even psychology (with well-being often linked to children’s ability to connect with nature in positive ways). This cohort of youth certainly sees the environment as important, although in the past few years our YouthBeat data has shown kids’, tweens’ and teens’ concerns related to global warming to be waning.  We know that this group is inundated by messages related to sustainable living, and that might be part of the problem. The normalization of green discourse means that environmental action might lack a sense of urgency surrounding it.  So how can you make your messages matter to kids? Take a cue from these companies and organizations who are seizing this Earth Day as an opportunity for fun.

  1. Tree Fu Tom, featuring Sprout’s newest superhero, reminds preschoolers that nature is full of adventure. And Tree Fu Tom shows that kids don’t have to choose nature shows or adventure shows – they can get excitement alongside their environmentally friendly programming.
  2. Get creative. One way to encourage kids to recycle is to show them the bins…Another way? Remind them of all the great things you can make if you pay attention to the art tools available in your home…Check out Scrapkins’ site and the Scrapkins Collector app for inspiration.
  3. Put kids on the case. Saving energy starts at home, and kids love being put in charge of making positive change (and telling their parents and sibling what to do!). Check out the Energystar site, designed for kids, for ways to make environmental issues accessible for them.  And remember, putting kids in charge makes getting things done less of a chore and more of a welcomed challenge.
  4. Inspire youth to take action. It might not sound like fun, but sometimes kids, tweens and teens need to know that doing the right thing can sometimes be recognized. The Children’s Environmental Health Network’s Nsedu Obot Witherspoon (NOW) Youth Leadership Award acknowledges tweens and teens who have engaged in good work surrounding the issue of children’s health issues caused by environmental problems. This organization acknowledges that their future depends on tweens and teens taking an interest in this important aspect of the sustainability story while reminding youth that their participation in the cause can reflect positively on them.
  5. Finally, focus on entertainment. Jack Johnson contributes to the cause by crafting a song that kids can’t help but sing: the “3 R’s song”. Enjoy!

Tags: Education, Social Issues, play, outside, culture, news

Building a Brand that Kids and Parents Will Love

Posted by Amy Henry on Fri, Mar 08, 2013 @ 03:37 PM

Far too often, youth promotions have been focused on child delight, with parent appeal relegated to the background. On the flipside, many kid brands have put parents front and center in their promotions, but have forgotten the fun. Two programs at decidedly adult retailer seem to be building fun into the shopping experience in a quite literal way. Better yet, parents and kids can both enjoy the benefits, which makes these programs perfect fits with the new way that youth and families understand and experience brands.

Lowe's Build and GrowLowes Build and Grow program and Home Depot Kid Workshops make a trip to these home improvement retailers more than just a mom and dad endeavor. Instead, parents can sign up for Saturday morning workshops that allow their children to put their own tools to work, while mom and dad shop or share in the fun. The retailers supply the kits, and the kids participate in putting together small creations, ranging from wooden monster trucks to old-fashioned birdhouses. And both of these retailers seem to recognize that this kind of hands on play isn’t just for preschoolers. Even parents with the most frustrating, exasperating and costly home improvement projects can connect with the playful side of projects through these programs. This may be the only home project that has a light at the end of the tunnel for many of them, but what better way to associate these brands with self-satisfaction than empowering parents to complete a project that means so much to their kids.

Think kids won’t connect with these projects? Some smart partnerships ensure that these projects have brand cache among older kids and young tweens. Sometimes, the workshops feature unbranded crafts like birdfeeders or picture frames, but they keep these workshops feeling fresh by teaming up with movies or toy brands to make these creations feel current and urgent.

Tags: Education, family, Youth, kids tweens teens, Lowe's