When you think of CX you think of the experience a person is having when buying a car, clothes or a new home. However, what if this person is buying a toy? Moreover what if this person is 5 and not 50?
Today’s blog will shed a light on an area of Customer Experience that perhaps is not as prominent as others. Toy stores, children’s museums, candy, comic book or game shops all target children. While adults will make purchases in these stores, customer experience needs to take into account that children now are able to make their own purchasing decisions and choose between different brands as well as largely influencing their guardians.
Children becoming consumers
Not long ago children were considered consumers of the future. Any advertising of products that would ultimately be used by children, was directed towards their parents or guardians. Children, even when they received money, were only considered as ‘savers’.
Their parents gave them pocket money that was to be saved up for some bigger purchase later on or to teach them financial responsibility. This resulted in children buying 10 cent candy and as such, being disregarded as a valuable customer.
However, with the baby boom, came the realisation that all these children, who spend 10 cents, add up. Marketers and business owners began understanding that children – even though they wouldn’t be making huge purchases, make a difference.
As well as this James U. McNeal states in his article that, “Kids are marching toward adulthood at a much brisker pace than they used to and are wanting more mature things to go with this accelerated growth.” Parents want their kids to become financially responsible and therefore are giving their children opportunities to become consumers from an early age.
NRF (National Retail Federation) concluded in a study that 90% of parents admitted that children influence their purchase decisions. On top of that, the most important decision that children influence is the choice of the brand.
Chances are, that even if children are not the direct target audience, they will influence your potential customers (ie. their parents or guardians).
Children as Target Audience – What to think about?
If your target audience are children, ensure that you do the same amount of research into what they need as you would with a specific adult group.
Shawn McCoy, VP of Business Development, from JRA, lists core design philosophies that he uses when designing the experience in children’s museums.
Children’s Museum Design Philosophies
- Provide familiar, inviting, and fun physical context
- Let the child be the hero
- Assist the child in facing the world around them
- Introduce the child to the world beyond them
- Incorporate challenge and reward
- Accommodate various personalities, learning styles, and attention spans
- Provide experiences that children and caregivers can enjoy together
Many if not all of these points can be directly applied to customer experience strategies for any target audience. However, it’s immensely important to ensure they are thought of when designing for children.
For example, “Let the child be the hero”, pretty obvious. One of the most important aspects of CX is to keep the customer at the centre of all decisions – this can be easily translated to – the customer is the most important.
The customer is always supposed to be the main protagonist of the story, you as a business are merely there to help them achieve their goal.
When you adapt this to a child, you give your business a chance to gain the best advocate ever known. Remember: If a child has a positive experience (no matter how small) they will tell everyone and they will have a stronger influence over their guardians/ parents decisions later on.
A good example of a company who successfully perfected their CX strategy to their target market (kids) is Build-A-Bear.
Their in store experience of creating a child’s own bear is based on the ideology that they ‘don’t sell products, they sell smiles’. Even if the parent doesn’t have enough money to purchase a bear, the company offers the children a sticker sheet or a pin.
This is combined with their website Bearville.com where children can create virtual versions of themselves and their animals and interact with each other online. On top of this they introduced ‘Bear University’ where kids can learn how to manage money amongst other subjects.
Build-A-Bear also brilliantly executes a point from the list, ‘Assist the child in facing the world around them’.
Children can be distracted easily, they can forget things – let’s face it – they are not the most responsible beings. To combat this the company attached a unique barcode inside of each bear when it’s made. The bear is given a ‘birth certificate’ which can be used to contact the owner. Found bears can be returned to the store and through this system reunited with the child. “More than 6,000 lost animals have been reunited with their owners over 16 years.”
Children as Influencers – Don’t forget about them
Teens and young adults increasingly support companies that they trust. The decision of whether a teenager trusts your company will be based on what you promise, and what the teenager expects you then to deliver. More and more, trust is based on sustainability and looking after our planet. If profit is your only purpose in business you’re going to have a tough time with the Generation Z or post millennial generation!
It’s also very easy to forget about the customers that don’t actually make any purchase or spend any money. However, as a business owner you need to remember that they do in fact have the power to influence what their parents buy as well as the power to make purchases themselves.
A good example of this is in the tourism industry. If you’ve ever been on a plane, you know how difficult it is for the mothers and their babies to travel. Children are famous for being very impatient. So what if an airline adjusted their service to accommodate for this? CathayPacific provides a ‘children’s fun-pack’ to 3-6 year olds to entertain them during the flight. It’s something very simple but does make a difference.
“Children not only influence the purchase of products that are directly consumed only by them, but a much wider range of products for use by the entire family” Children are increasingly becoming major influencers of parents’ decisions, including purchasing choices.
Therefore, as a brand owner you should always have in mind your target audience. If they include parents, guardians or children you need to take the above into consideration, at every stage of designing your CX Strategy.
If you would like to learn more about Customer Experience and how to achieve CX Excellence enrol in our Professional Diploma or Certificate today.