We know that kids seldom consume media via one format at a time, creating a more complex programming environment not only for broadcasters but for kid marketers as well. With all the distractions, industry players have to wonder whether kids still watch TV commercials like they used to. Or has online marketing become a more effective route as the computer assumes an increasingly dominant role in kids’ lives? Well, in an effort to answer those questions, media agency giant MindShare has just completed the most recent edition of its Youth More study that examines how US and Canadian kids and teens are living in a multimedia world.
MindShare senior partner and research director Debbie Solomon grouped the responses of the study’s some 1,200 participants into two demos – eight to 12 and 13 to 17. (In the interest of time and space, we’re going to focus on the results for kids eight to 12.) And one of the biggest changes between this year and last year’s results, she says, is that the number of tweens watching TV shows on their computers has almost doubled to 44.9%. It’s also the alternate device of choice, as PSPs and other handhelds (9.6%), iPods (6.9%) and cell phones (4.2%) lagged some distance behind. However, good ole television still ranks as the screen tweens would miss most (45.1%).
Moreover, that reliance on TV also follows when it comes to advertising. According to the study, TV commercials are the number-one idea source for ‘things to buy for yourself or ask for as a gift’ among the tweens polled. A full 81.4% said they rely on TV spots to deliver this info, with friends (73.5%), TV shows (58.2%), family members (47.1%) and printed store flyers (42.8%) rounding out the top five. Online sources were further down the list at 35.8%.
Not surprisingly, there was also a bit of a gender divide, as girls appear to be much more active shoppers. Along with commercials, in-store signage and retail catalogues seem to have a bigger impact on girls. More than 10 percentage points separated the girls from the boys in both categories, as 43.8% of the girls, and only 32.2% of the boys, said they derived inspiration from in-store signage. Similarly, catalogues attracted 40.9% of the girls polled and only 29.4% of the boys.
But true to their multi-tasking nature, when it comes to watching TV commercials they’re also often doing something else. While a full 92.1% said they watch the commercial sometimes or often, they also admitted to chatting with friends online about the TV show (23.1%) and about the commercial (15.3%), and talking to family members about the commercial (71.3%).
Solomon’s delivering a detailed talk on further results from the study, which will include attitudes to online advertising, at next month’s KidScreen Summit in New York.