Source: Pixabay

by Tiffany Tasker, director of business development for North America, SuperAwesome

COVID-19 has reshaped all of our lives, and kids are among the most affected. Since school closures began in March, every aspect of a kid’s day has changed: education, socializing, play, exercise, eating, and even the physical spaces kids occupy.

As kids are adapting to these changes, a key consideration for brands is discoverability and staying top-of-mind with them: How can you make sure they remember to choose your brand over others? Are your products still relevant or has COVID-19 changed play patterns so much that your products need updating, too?

SuperAwersome has been tracking these changes of routine, behaviors, and locations, and what it means for brands.
The first concept to be aware of is the digital expansion of kids’ ecosystems. Kids’ worlds have shrunk geographically. However, the need to replicate and replace all the real-world activities kids did on a daily basis has necessitated the adoption of many more digital brands and services than they consumed pre-COVID-19. Half of kids report that they’re using their phones, tablets, and laptops more than before, especially before bed, when they’re playing games, using social media and chat apps, watching videos, and generally browsing. They’re using Zoom, once a business-to-business-focused company, to “meet up” with family members. Roblox is now a digital location for them to hang and chill with friends, as well as a place to play and build. Everything has changed.

In essence, every brand is now a kids and family brand. The toy category has more competition than before because competition for kids’ time now includes digital platforms that, once adopted, become a part of everyday life. These behaviors are unlikely to change, so it’s important for brands to consider how they can leverage their products and marketing strategies to remain current with these patterns.

“Family togetherness is one of the most welcomed and valued changes caused by COVID-19.”

The good news is that kids have a huge appetite for having fun and playing. With 74% of kids saying they take breaks from schoolwork whenever they feel like it, there’s more opportunity for them to engage with your brand than when they were physically at school. School’s long class sessions and short, scheduled breaks have evolved into a cycle of micro work and play sessions while kids are at home. Break times are used for playing with toys and games, as well as watching YouTube, chatting with friends online, playing outside, and snacking.

Brands that want to get in on this daytime play pattern should think about creating content that is short-form, light, and easy for viewers to dip into and out of. TikTok’s huge surge in popularity during the COVID-19 lockdown is partly
due to its 15-60-second, snackable content. Bite-size activities with intuitive design and functionality are perfect for this new pattern of behavior. We advise testing interactive in-app ads, branded online mini-games, and contextually targeted YouTube campaigns with a fun brand message.

The start and end of the school day have also been completely rewired, and time reclaimed from the commute is being spent together as a family. Family togetherness is one of the most welcomed and valued changes caused by COVID-19, whether they’re enjoying YouTube workouts or leisurely sit-down breakfasts that are treated more like dinner.
At dinnertime, kids are involved with the cooking process more than before, and mealtimes are later and slowed down as there’s no need to get ready for the next day. On weekends, co-consumption of content increases as families recreate Friday nights at the movies, with 71% of kids and parents reporting that they’re using their smart TVs more than before.

Kids and parents comment on ads they see together, so target your online video, YouTube, and over-the-top campaigns to evening-time and co-viewed content to stay top of mind. On social platforms, we’ve seen great results from creating influencer-branded content that promotes cross-generational activities. Cultivating this family behavior through deliberate and specific content will help to gain long-term consumer trust for your brand — even if the activity isn’t directly related to your product. Pebbles cereal’s Daily Yabba Dabba Doo website of crafts and activities that don’t have anything to do with cereal is a great example. Try to riff on themes like movie night recipes, a before-school fitness routine, or fun ideas to get kids off their devices at night. Make sure families see your content by promoting it in kid-safe and co-viewed online environments.

The main message here is that in the new normal, the kids’ space has shifted and the rules for branding and marketing have changed. Think about delivering value to your consumers beyond your brand message — these are the brands that will win over consumers in the long run.


This article was originally published in the October 2020 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!