When we think about potential customers, business owners rightfully tend to think of those with money in their pockets. People who can purchase something today. An even better subset of potential purchasers in the minds of business owners are those who are considered to be low in the funnel – transactional minded people.
However, I think it is time for business owners, even small business owners, to begin to consider the customers of tomorrow. Of course, there needs to be a continuous and ongoing focus on making sure today’s customers (adults with spending money) are satisfied and given attention. It is imperative to know your customer base. But for those interested in building a brand, beyond a local or a niche business – for those interested in holistic growth on a large scale for many years into the future – these are the business owners who need to start considering customers beyond those they are familiar with. This means looking at customers of tomorrow – kids – and making them customers for life.
Though to some extent this notion of planting seeds with kids so that they can become customers for life is not a new one (Nike commercials come to mind), it is even more relevant today, especially with the modern tech boom ushered in by startups and hi-tech companies.
That is why I believe that all business owners should take notice, and at the very least, be cognizant and aware of kids, even though they have no purchasing power, because in just a few years, they certainly will.
Two recent examples I’ve seen of companies and organizations that cater toward kids (likely in the hopes of bringing them into their company/brand at a young age so that they remain loyal) are very different: UNICEF and Nike. And although they are different, their strategies are the same.
UNICEF recently launched an interesting Fitbit for kids style bracelet for fitness tracking. One of the compelling strategies that they employ is active engagement on social media. Their Instagram account shows pictures uploaded by kids who are wearing their bracelets. This encourages more sharing among kids. And you can certainly bet that kids who are already familiarizing themselves with UNICEF at such a young age (via a cool product) are likely to be loyal to this organization as they get older.
Nike is not shy about their marketing strategy. They explicitly want kids to become brand ambassadors (using their parents’ money). But beyond that, Nike actively targets kids, uses them in commericails, and focuses on them with their overall brand strategy. This commercial even starts with babies! Talk about not wasting any time!
The takeaway is this: Kids may not have the money now, but their parents do. And when these kids do acquire money, they are likely to spend it on Nikes and donate to UNICEF causes. Why? Because since they were kids, they’ve been familiar with them and will remain loyal to these brands.
Much has been written about the explosion of the hi-tech boom and its effect on small businesses. I believe that the combination of hi-tech being brought to kids at a young age has made them a branding force to be reckoned with – companies and organizations need to reach out to kids before they develop their individual senses of brand loyalty. Because the sooner these companies and organizations can reach these kids, the sooner they can create this new pipeline of customers. Additionally, tech is being brought onto kids sooner than ever, with internet being introduced to kids at age 3, and babies learning to play with laptops at just 1 year old!
And for the average small business owner, this may seem a long time away. After all, kids aren’t spending too much money relative to the rest of the population. However, with a combination of access to their parents’ money, as well as a rapidly forming sense of loyalty toward brands that engage them from a young age, will make it fruitful for companies and organizations to include kids in their overall brand and marketing efforts.
Shlomo is the founder and editor of Startups #nofilter, where he interviews startup founders and CEO's about their companies, and blogs about the latest in hi-tech and gadgets. Speaking of gadgets, Shlomo also runs a baby tech website called First Baby Laptop, which discusses and reviews the latest in baby tech, including laptops, learning tables, and toy phones. Shlomo is a content and blogging fanatic, with a focus on digital marketing strategy, and loves helping businesses understand their audience base and how to grow.