Kids, like many adults, have been looking forward to summer since January. They want what I’ll call a “Fun Kid Summer” — the halcyon days of adventure and time spent outside without the stress, worry, or restrictions of a global pandemic — albeit, with some of the past year’s new, digital-first habits and behaviors woven in.
Much of kids’ excitement about summer goes hand in hand with eased COVID-19 restrictions. At the height of the pandemic, kids looked forward to weekends and the opportunity to play outside with their parents. During this year’s Fun Kid Summer, kids will feel this same excitement about interacting with their friends and extended family, ideally outdoors, at the beach, or poolside.
All brands — not just those who make products for outdoor use — have an opportunity to make an impact and capture kids’ attention this summer. The key to doing so is through delivering value, preventing boredom, encouraging kids to have fun, and — most importantly — bringing families and friends together. This can be achieved by creating effective branded content and promoting it in digital platforms.
If your toy or game isn’t usually played outside, stay relevant by sharing ideas for outdoor activities that feature your brand and are fun for kids of all ages. This can include safe ways to play if pandemic-related restrictions are still in place. Think about your current core audiences and how you can extend your brand to appeal to kids through personalized and useful content. This might include summer life hacks targeted toward specific audiences or tutorials to help kids connect with their friends.
Influencers are a powerful way to tap into existing fan bases and provide guaranteed distribution for your content. This content can also be repurposed to create short-form videos, which will extend your reach and deliver strong results. Instagram is the best platform for getting in front of parents; PopJam, a kid-safe social content community, can help you reach audiences under age 13; and YouTube is an effective channel for reaching kids and families. TikTok is also popular with kids and families, but brands need to be cautious: This app has strict policies in place for kids’ brands and content. Your campaign runs the risk of being pulled from the platform if guidelines are not carefully followed.
Fun Kid Summer will also be used to prepare for the back-to-school season, with most families wrapping up school shopping by mid-August. This is a peak family purchasing window, as kids and parents shop together both in stores and online. Your brand has the opportunity to make its way into the cart as a fun add-on or pocket money purchase. It’s important to create distinct messaging and content for kids that remains separate from parent programming and exists where kids are consuming content, to drive that all-important kid ask.
This year, the STEM toys that top kids’ most wanted lists are those that combine learning with tactile and imaginative play. Fidget toys — which kids classify as a learning toy — are cool again. Kids want to make their own fidgets and build their own computers. Similarly, the most popular digital platforms also combine play with learning. Roblox, which taps into creativity and building, is the top-played educational game, followed by Minecraft and online games, including Brain Games and Prodigy. These free-to-play digital platforms are often the easiest, most accessible routes into STEM, so it’s even more important that STEM toys create a distinct brand voice that stands out.
To differentiate your STEM toy, remember to communicate directly with kids to leverage their greater role in purchasing decisions, particularly for higher-ticket items. Character-driven content resonates best with kids; you can increase desire and pester power for educational toys when they are linked to a popular mascot or influencer. Additionally, consider whether your brand is accessible for parents who might not be familiar with what coding or STEM entails. You can make it feel approachable with authentic video tutorials or live events that bring families together.
Fun Kid Summer provides a great opportunity for toy brands to win with kids and families. For more kids insights to help you make an impact, sign up to receive our free monthly PopJam Trend Reports at superawesome.com.