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How to Market to (and Actually Reach) My 4 Kids

My four kids are between the ages of 7 and 15, making them prime targets for marketers of everything from food and drinks to video games and clothes. But knowing how my kids spend their free time, marketers have a few hurdles to overcome to reach them. (Please note: This was a purely unscientific study, and results may vary from house to house).
Unlike the seeming majority of their peers, the Auld kids aren’t spending their time on social media. They’re more focused on:

  • Video Games. OK, so in this respect, they’re not alone. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), 63% of U.S. households have one person who plays video games regularly and 48% own a dedicated console. PricewaterhouseCoopers reports that 97% play video games for an average of one hour per day. That’s us! Two games rule in our house. The first is the Nintendo WiiU and anything related to Mario (even though ESA says the most popular games are sports-related). The younger one will play until the controller’s battery dies, then it’s onto the second console. What rules here is a free online multiplayer game called Roblox. Roblox does feature ads—attention, marketers!—usually during game startup, and there isn’t a great variety of brands. Annabelle, the 15 year old, said the ads are usually for other games or products like Lunchables (no surprise there).
  • Fan Websites. Two of my kids are into anime and spend time on fan sites of whatever show they’re binging on at the time. Most of the ads on the anime websites are usually for other anime (also, no surprise), so fan sites can be a good marketing tool for a brand that’s already a favorite of a target group.
  • Streaming. While recent studies by Nielsen showed that 95% of children between the ages of 2 and 17 still watch television—and they spend less time watching as they get older—it’s how they’re watching it that’s important. In our house, we have access to both Amazon Prime and Netflix, and the kids use them almost exclusively. When the kids want to watch something, those services bring them right into the show or movie. If they’re watching on YouTube, the kids skip the commercial after the five seconds required. If they’re unable to skip, they back out of the page, then reload until they get a five-second countdown. Traditional television viewing around here is reserved for dinosaurs like me (any interest?).
  • Books. I have three kids who read for pleasure. Two like the traditional books, and the other likes Japanese manga (translated, of course). Nielsen found that 45% of teens still read books, so we’re ahead of the curve on this one. Good news for us, not so perhaps for marketers.

Those are the challenges for just my kids. That’s not taking into account the kids who enjoy running around outdoors or playing sports. On the other hand, there are kids who live on social media that are being connected with the marketers just fine. Personally, I think it’s rather amazing that a GenXer like myself whose childhood was bombarded with marketing is raising kids who have figured out a way to escape it.


Ken Auld


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