Kid Think Inc. What Today’s Kids are Thinking: It’s back-to-school time

To help us keep up-to-date with what's happening with kids, we've asked Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, to investigate and report back to us on a wide range of issues in kids' lives. Since today's kids spend so...
September 1, 1997

To help us keep up-to-date with what’s happening with kids, we’ve asked Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, to investigate and report back to us on a wide range of issues in kids’ lives. Since today’s kids spend so much time on-line, Kid Think talked with kids via LiveWire: Today’s Families Online, a proprietary panel of 600 on-line families across the United States.

Both Kid Think and LiveWire are divisions of Griffin Bacal, a New York communications agency specializing in the youth and family markets. If you have any questions or have subjects you would like Kid Think to cover, call Bob Horne at 212-337-6410 or e-mail

This month, LiveWire went on-line to ask kids age eight to 12 how they prepare to head back to school.

According to most of the kids we talked to, a new school year calls for new things. ‘The year is new, the teachers are new and your clothes and school supplies should be new too,’ sums up Daniel, age 12, from New Jersey. The majority of our panel agree, and plan to do back-to-school shopping with their parents. Items on their lists are varied, and range from the necessary pens, pencils and notebooks to specific brand-name clothing. Jordan, age 10, from Oregon, will be getting ‘Jnco pants, Airwalk shoes and Mossimo shirts.’ Karen, age 9, from Texas, says that she’s including nail polish among her purchases.

The stores that our panel most commonly associate with back-to-school shopping are Wal-Mart and Kmart for supplies, and for clothing, boys prefer JCPenney, while girls like Limited Too.

A genuine sense of excitement certainly exists among our panel when it comes to getting new stuff to wear or use for the first day of school. Both boys and girls agree that having new things on the first day back makes them feel special, and they look forward to shopping for these items. Among the girls, though, only half the fun is in obtaining new items for school; the other half is showing them off. Corie, age 10, from Massachusetts, says, ‘I got my ears pierced during the summer, and I can hardly wait to show my friends my new earrings.’ Naomi, age 11, from California, agrees and points out that ‘having new things to wear and bring on the first day of school makes me feel special. I like when people see me with new things or wearing my new clothes. I get excited to show off my new things to my friends.’

Boys, on the other hand, are a little less enthusiastic about showing off their stuff. When Brett, age 9, from Pennsylvania, was asked about displaying his purchases, he said, ‘No way. I’m not a show-off.’

In deciding on back-to-school purchases, very few of our kids consult their friends, although it’s obvious that peer approval is important. Catrina, age 10, from California, says, ‘I don’t like to discuss what I am going to buy with my friends first, because maybe my friends will think I am bragging. And if I change my mind or if the store was out of that product, they might think that I was telling a lie.’

What kids said:

We asked kids to tell us about any hot items they hoped to have before going back to school. The answers were quite diverse. Here’s a brief glimpse of some of the latest and hot new must-have products:

‘A Giga Pet.’ Christina, Pennsylvania, age 10

‘Pastel clothes from Pleasant Company. Tamagotchi, a virtual pet.’ Adrienne, Iowa, age 10

‘Slash sneakers.’ Stephanie,

Virginia, age 8

‘Sundresses and clogs.’ Sarah, California, age 9

‘The new smaller Game Boy.’ Jeff, Pennsylvania, age 8

‘Space LEGO.’ Ryan, Massachusetts, age 8

‘Reebok and Nike clothing.’ Brett, Pennsylvania, age 9

‘Transformers, Beanie Babies and Dino shirts.’ Daniel, New Jersey, age 10

Next month: Kid Think will ask kids what kind of show they would like to create.

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