Young consumers' emphasis on YouTube influencers and gender neutrality

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

A survey of 20k UK children has revealed that brands will need to “up their game” to engage with young people.

The Future Forecasts report from Manchester’s Kids Insights concludes that the media environment is “shifting dramatically.”

“Understanding how children are adopting and adapting to new technologies is hugely valuable” for brands desperate to recognise future trends early," said Applied Futurist and broadcaster, Tom Cheesewright.

"The Future Forecasts report comes as thousands of UK brands begin shaping their marketing, licensing, content and product development investments in 2018 and 2019."

The rise of YouTube influencers is continuing unabated and there’s more demand for gender neutral toys and products.

It predicts that “Generation Upgrade” will be seeking sustainable products, while the next big opportunity could be eSports.

“In the battle for children’s attention and ultimately their hearts and minds, innovation is increasingly critical,” added Nick Richardson, futures analyst at Kids Insight. 

“The brands which are enjoying success are those which are extremely responsive to the constantly developing and increasingly complex kids ecosystem.

“Trends are coming and going far quicker than ever before – and brands who are in tune with how children are behaving are able to turn these trends into opportunities rather than see them as risks. Brands that stand still are going to find it harder and harder to regain the attention of young consumers.”

The report suggests that Virtual Reality could be trumped by Augmented Reality, particularly given Apple’s invest in AR.

“Children’s favourite toys are also moving into the world of mixed reality with Nickelodeon recently announcing that it will be launching a range of Paw Patrol smart toys with AR capabilities, enabling fans to interact with their favourite characters in a different format. The Transformers world has also expanded into the augmented world so we think this is going to be the big breakthrough tech for 2018,” continued Richardson.

“Virtual reality devices have instead been aimed, so far, at use with high end devices, but cheaper, cardboard headsets could help them reach the mainstream.”

Looking at the use of video games, social media and voice recognition, it found that most under 12s are consuming content that’s deemed inappropriate for them or illegal, with more than half of all 4-6 year olds using some form of social media.

For boys aged 10-12, 60% of their favourites have an age rating of at least 16+, with Call of Duty, GTA and Assassin’s Creed all having a certificate rating of 18.

Almost 1 in 4, 4-6 year olds and 1 in 3, 7-9s are using voice control, rather than keypads to control their tablets and they predict that by 2020, 50% of all internet searches will be undertaken using voice control.

“Children aren’t just shaped by their parents, they also shape their parents’ views and behaviours,” explained Cheesewright. 

“Understanding how children are adopting and adapting to new technologies is hugely valuable in recognising future trends early.”

The growth in eSports is set to continue this year and this could see an increase in the popularity of Amazon’s live streaming platform, Twitch. This is currently watched by 9% of 16-18 year olds.

You can download the report here.