Gone are the days where parents made all the decisions about what their families wore. With kids spending more and more time online, interacting both with brands and with their peers, what they wear and where it’s from is an important part of how they present themselves. Kids of this generation also have a much greater degree of digital financial independence, thanks to apps like Go Henry, and so digital spending no longer necessarily comes directly through the parents.
This means that clothing brands need to pay particular attention to their digital strategies. What appeals to a parent is not the same content that catches the attention of the trend-loving kid. Toy brands have known this for some time – which is why when kids in the US are surveyed about their favourite brands, the likes of Nintendo, Disney and LEGO always index extremely highly. Successful brands engage their fans (kids), not just the purchaser (parents).
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The kids edition of the Smarty Pants 2018 Brand Love survey paints a clear picture: for the most part, if it’s delicious or you can play with it or watch it, it’s on the list. YouTube tops the list, followed by Netflix and iPhone – after that food brands like McDonalds and Oreo take over.
But clothing brands are beginning to catch up – and in particular, sports brands. In fact, research conducted on US under-13s in the last six months show that 8.8% of kids surveyed selected Nike as their favourite brand, with Under Armour making a showing at 3% and Adidas the last clothing brand to make the top 10 at 1.7%.
The rise of sportswear is correlated to the rise in the popularity of sports and aspirational exercise and looking good by being fit. It also ties in with the popularity of urban looks and city styling.
This affinity grows even stronger when you look at boys in particular, where Nike comes out as the favoured brand for 11.5% of all surveyed, and Under Armour creeping up to 4.8%.
When asked why these brands are their favourites, nearly 45% explain simply that it makes them happy, while just under 30% admit that they like it because their friends use it. Blogger or celebrities endorsement is much less important to them – only 7% cite blogger influence as the reason for their affinity with the brand. And if influence does factor into the equation, it must be carefully executed – influencer will only resonate with this generation if they are seen to have an authentic connection with the brand.
It’s long been accepted that kids exercise considerable influence over household spending when it comes to food and outings – but their developing passion for expression through clothing at a younger age illustrates a potential new path for trendy clothing brands for 2019. 55% of kids surveyed in 2017 spent their own money on clothes and shoes, while an enormous 60% said they influenced family spending when it came to clothes and shoes.