"I would rather have an iPad than a dog." This is a statement from a 5-year-old in a new video from Hotwire interviewing Generation Alpha - defined as children born after 2010 - about technology.
The video, which features some Hotwire staffers’ children, was created to bring Hotwire’s report, Understanding Generation Alpha, to life, said Emma Hazan, global head of consumer at Hotwire.
"We wanted to bring our report to life and get kids to talk themselves; we wanted to show this is not just experts saying this – this is what kids are telling us," she said. "We asked them how they use tech, what they like to do on their iPad, what their parents don’t allow, and what they want to do when they are older."
Here are Hazan’s 5 top tips for how PR pros and marketers can reach Generation Alpha and their parents:
Understand that technology can be a pain point
Just because kids might seem obsessed with an iPad or other tech, Hazan explained that doesn’t mean brands should be telling parents, "Yes, give them more tech, don’t worry about the negative side effects it might be causing."
"Kids are so obsessed with iPads that they are zoning out from real life," said Hazan. "We [in the PR and marketing industry] need to bear that in mind. Most parents are worried that kids are getting too much screen time and not enough exercise and fresh air."
Brands need to build campaigns that will talk to parents about these worries and try to be the ally, she advised. This will enable brands to build an emotional connection with families.
Kids have a strong voice when it comes to making purchases in the family home
Hotwire’s report found that, in the U.S., parents agreed that Generation Alpha is learning tech skills at a much faster rate than they are learning. In fact, parents believe that by the time their children are eight, they won’t be able to keep up with the way their kids use technology, leaving them unsure how to help them in the future.
"A large percentage of parents when they go to buy a piece of tech don’t just think about how their kids will use it, but they actually ask their kids opinion before they buy it," said Hazan. "Tables are turning and kids have a lot more power in the family home."
YouTube influencers are one of the best ways to reach children, said Hazan. So brands should partner with them in an authentic way.
Spend hours watching kid influencer videos
Brands need to get research teams to spend hours watching kid influencers to see what they are talking about, how they are talking about it, how they are being engaged, and what appeals to children, said Hazan.
"It seems ridiculous that I am asking a 25-year-old market researcher to spend hours of their time watching a 4-year-old review a product," she said. "But only by doing that are you understanding the language kids are speaking and how they can then help to influence them as well."
Don’t forget engaging children at point-of-sale
Even at point-of-sale, brands need to inspire Generation Alpha. Hazan said retailers can have kid influencers do meet-and-greets or reviews of products in-store.
Kid-friendly versions of adult apps are patronizing
Kids do not want to use kid-friendly versions of adult apps, such as YouTube Kids, since they know they have a better grasp of technology than their parents, explained Hazan.
"If they are the ones telling their parents how to use the tech, they don’t want to use a dumbed-down version, they won’t be fooled by it," she said. "Brands need to scrap kid-versions of apps, but focus on creating universal devices everyone can use but that come with scalable safety features."