How best can we talk to children in an age of increasing globalisation and media convergence? That was the main theme running through the Children: Seen and heard conference for market researchers and clients, which took place in London yesterday. Needless to say, the day's presentations turned up lots of talking points. Here are five that stood out for me.
1) Want to know why marketing to - and gathering market research from - kids is such a hot topic? Here's a clue: the market is huge, worth around $2 trillion annually, according to Agnes Nairn, marketing professor at the EM-Lyon Business School and one of the day's speakers. This spend is roughly equivalent to the GDP of India.
2) What do European children get up to when they go online? Research from Claudio Pires Franco of Dubit returned three answers: games, games and games. Kids are crazy for immersive online experiences - especially Club Penguin! - and are surprisingly open to paying for the privilege. That said, big international variations were turned up by the data: just 8% of children in Holland were willing to pay for their gaming, compared to 27% of French children.
3) The role of the father in family life has been largely unexplored by brands. That was the main takeaway point from Illuminus' head of child and youth Pete Maginn's presentation - somewhat inevitably entitled "Who's the Daddy?". Dads were found to play an unexpectedly large role in family expenditure generally thought to be "women's work", such as food and grocery purchases.
4) Children are feeling the crunch. Joanne Cliff of Platypus Research asked UK kids about their experiences in the recession, and found they were feeling downbeat about their future, with more than half (54%) believing it is now less likely they will attend university. Chatting to Joanne afterwards, she said she hadn't found big differences in sentiment from region to region, despite the fact that parts of the country had been hit much harder than others. Could this mean that children are reacting to the general media doom-and-gloom in their attitude to the downturn, rather than its actual impact on their family finances?
5) You're a broadcaster, you're in Cannes and you've just sold a kids' TV show to the Al Jazeera Children's Channel. And you might be excited about reaching a new audience from the mountains of Algeria to the megacities of the UAE. But, according to Wassime Achkar, research and audience supervisor for the channel, who discussed the challenges and rewards of reaching a diverse audience, it can take up to three years for bought-in shows to actually air.
More to come in my full report of the day, up on warc.com soon.