Fish Streaming: Targeting Kids

We’ve all heard of P2P marketing. Some may even have tried it. So far, only a few have been successful with the method.

Part of the BRANDchild global research study I conducted with research institute Millward Brown sought a more precise measure of the influence young peers have on each other. The fascinating results showed close to 90 percent of kids 8 to 12 years old prefer to act in a group than on their own. About half these kids feel enormous pressure to wear the “right” brands. It’s hardly surprising a whopping 90 percent of kids’ brand decisions are heavily influenced by their peers — all over the world.

The data is both sad and exciting. Sad because today’s kids are under so much pressure to conform. Exciting because unconventional marketing strategies are sorely needed to reach this segment. The BRANDchild survey indicates P2P marketing will be increasingly vital.

How do you target kids? For starters, forget everything you ever learned about fostering brand loyalty by appealing to a sense of individuality. The study shows loyalty is created only on a group basis. Imagine the most basic scenario. Peter loves Adidas, but his friends prefer Nike. Chances are, Peter will switch to Nike with his next purchase. In my book, “BRANDchild,” I call this phenomenon “fish streaming.”

A fish stream is independent. No big fish leads the way. Instead, there’s interconnection between each fish. They swim together as one. Were you to remove the fish at the head of the stream, it wouldn’t alter the course of the group. Only predators, such as sharks, can do that.

It’s clear totally new methods are required to communicate to, and build brands with, the younger generation. Marketers must plug into the groups’ collective thinking, perhaps even plug into the “shark.” The shark could be anything that threatens the sanctity or cohesion of the group. The undermining of family values is one example. Our research shows 97 percent of kids worldwide believe family values are paramount.

How should this information be used in your next marketing plan? What are the do’s and don’ts? Stay tuned. Next week, in the final column in the BRANDchild series, I’ll explain how to develop a P2P program.

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