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    What drives kids and parents audience behaviour

    Climb Online

    Children of all ages represent an incredibly important demographic to marketers. Alongside their own purchasing power, they also hold influence over the purchasing decisions of their parents, often referred to as “pester power”.

    However, targeting this demographic requires understanding the uniqueness of child and family audiences, and recent research from the User Experience team at Google Play produced numerous insightful results into the acquisition journeys of children and their parents, uncovering many interesting aspects of this demographic, as well as the motivators for parents and children in discovering, downloading and spending money on apps and games.

    The Audiences

    Unsurprisingly, child audiences differ quite dramatically by age. What appeals to a 3-year-old is obviously going to hold little value to a 13-year-old. The data was split between 5 core demographics: 3 – 4s, 5 – 7s, 8 – 11s, 12 – 15s and 16 – 17-year-olds.

    Across all age groups, children almost ubiquitously went online, with laptops, tablets and mobiles being the most used devices for doing so.

    Ownership of a personal social media profile steadily climbs in frequency as children get older, with nearly a quarter of 3 – 4-year-olds having their own profile, rising to 33% for 5 – 7s, 60% for 8 – 11s and 89% and 94% respectively for 12 – 15s and 16 – 17s.

    Interestingly from a marketing perspective, across every age category, the incidence of watching movies and TV shows on devices other than a TV set remains fairly constant, between 74% – 87%.

    Other results uncovered by the research paint a picture of child audiences as somewhat savvy online users, with a sizable portion [32%] of 8 – 11-year-olds able to identify sponsored results in search, rising to 38% for 12 – 15-year-olds and 48% for 16- 17-year-olds.

    There were also notable gender differences. For example, though online gaming was at 6 in 10, boys were more likely to play games online than girls – 66% of boys compared with 51% of girls. Boys also tended to play games for longer, with an average of four hours a day compared with two hours each day for girls.

    The Role of Parents

    The research identified several “types” of parents when it came to how content such as apps and games were discovered and bought, and this was predominantly dependent on the age range of the children.

    “Driver” parents, that is, those that have full control over the discovery and acquisition of apps and games for their children, were most prevalent within the 0 – 8 age range. They tended to have a high degree of control over devices within the home and were much more likely to carefully check the content to ensure it was suitable for their children.

    The research also identified “Gatekeeper” parents. These are mostly parents with children between the ages of 9 – 13. While they allow their children a greater degree of freedom in searching for content, they do retain a monitoring position, vetting and approving the content that is selected by their children.

    As children move into the teenage demographic, the role of parents dramatically shrinks, with teenagers themselves mostly taking control of the search, discovery and download of new content, apps and games. Parents are usually unable at this age to control what children consume, and kids within this demographic are more likely to place weight on the opinions and suggestions of friends and siblings.

    The Drivers

    For marketers, it is important to be aware of the drivers and key concerns of these various demographics of children and their parents.

    For driver parents, an educational factor often takes precedence, but should also be tempered with fun and engagement – which becomes an increasingly important factor once the child starts school. Age suitability is another major concern, and this is reflected by the age rating of a piece of content, ease of use, access to in-app purchases, and lack of age-inappropriate subject matter.

    Parents of younger children are also concerned with content that matches the interests of their children, and also the interests of the parents. So, while the inclusion of characters from TV shows, games and books that interest the child is important, it should be aligned where possible to the academic-related interests of the parents.

    As children grow and parents adopt the “Gatekeeping” role, concerns also evolve. Here, parents are more concerned with the downloading activity of the children, with stricter guidelines put in place for children who are using their parents’ money as opposed to their own pocket money. Age-inappropriate content naturally also remains a concern and is especially prevalent for younger boys interested in violent video games such as first-person shooter games, or those with online chat.

    Finally, screen time becomes much more of a concern for parents here, with many worrying that their children are spending too long on devices, or risk becoming addicted.

    What Can Marketers Do?

    There are some key takeaways from this enlightening research, with the main one being a need for marketers to focus in on their target age range as closely as possible. With children being very special types of consumers, with dramatically different levels of development and ability based on age, content must be structured more carefully around these concerns.

    Further, it is wise to bear in mind the concerns and desires of both child and parent in the design and marketing stages, and highlight these design choices that bring content, apps and games in line with parental expectations.

    Marketers have a responsibility when it comes to younger audiences, and this begins with understanding the needs and concerns of these demographics.

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