Our research revealed that brand awareness resonates with kids as young as eight and nine years old. And while articulating what a brand name means to them is difficult for most kids and teens, it doesn’t mean that they don’t know what a brand is. Most tied their definition of a brand to a store/company or a ‘symbol.’ Interestingly, many kids described a brand as the ‘type of clothes you wear,’ or ‘where your clothes are from.’ Whether or not they actually purchase brand-name clothes, they’re referencing them. This is further proof of the impact brand names have on this category.
According to kids and teens, there are several attributes that make a brand important, with quality and ‘the way it looks’ rated as the most important. Having an experience with a brand is typically a prerequisite, especially with boys. If kids or teens have a less-than-great experience with a brand, they tend to reject it and are reluctant to give it a second chance. From a social perspective, brands are a direct reflection of personality, therefore brand acceptance relies heavily on peer approval. This makes brand choices especially significant to tween and teen girls. As one girl in grade seven said, ‘You get more respect if your clothes are more expensive. I get lots of compliments on my Hollister jeans because everybody wants them.’
Owning or using brand-name products is more important in the clothing, footwear and electronics categories. Girls gravitate to brand-name clothes because of the social aspects connected to certain brands, while several boys talked about the importance of brand names in the sports equipment category. Using brand-name equipment directly correlates to performance and the belief that ‘if it makes a professional athlete’s performance good, it can do the same for me.’ When looking at the categories where brands aren’t as relevant, food & beverage was most frequently mentioned. Food & beverage is largely about taste, and while this doesn’t mean brands can’t be important in this category, it simply shows there are few instances where brand imagery has a stronger resonance than product experience.
When exploring what non-branded products mean to kids and teens, they commonly refer to them as poor quality, ‘cheap’ or ‘something others haven’t heard of.’ In fact, because non-branded products have such a strong link to quality, many kids and teens won’t even consider purchasing them in the electronics category. This is one area in particular where product performance and quality are critical.
Kids and teens typically hear about new brands from friends and other kids in schools. The perception of a brand as ‘cool or popular’ is the most important reason to consider a new brand experience. Additionally, when considering trying new brands, more than 50% of all respondents said it’s ‘very important’ their friends have good things to say about it.
Now that we have a better understanding of the importance of brands to kids and teens, part two of this report will explore the effectiveness of advertising and just how influential word of mouth can be. For more information, contact Erin Miller at Kaleidoscope@nick.com
(Source: Nickelodeon Kids & Family Research, March 09; Touchstone Research, April 09. Quant Sample size: N = 500)
In an effort to keep you in touch with our audience and give a voice to our consumers, the Brand and Consumer Insights Department at Nickelodeon Kids & Family has created Nickelodeon Kaleidoscope. Every month, Kaleidoscope will capture key areas of interest across the kid and family cultural landscape, provide an understanding of attitudes and behaviors, and report on trends and buzz.