Why big brands are listening to little kids

By Pelican Consultant Emma Scott

3 minute read

Key takeaways:

  • Young children are increasingly making their voices heard, and big brands are listening.
  • Children represent an increasingly important demographic to marketers.
  • As the consumers of tomorrow, what matters to them should matter to you.

Gone are the days when children were seen and not heard. Quite the contrary, children are making their voices heard, and big brands are listening.

The Greta Thunberg effect.

For evidence of how much influence a single child can have, look no further than Greta Thunberg. In August 2018, aged 15, the Swedish activist began spending her school days outside the Swedish parliament, calling for stronger action on climate change by holding up a sign that read ‘Skolstrejk för klimatet’ (School strike for climate). Before long, other students engaged in similar protests in their own communities.

In March the following year, more than 1.4 million young people around the world took part in school strikes for climate action.

Ever since, children have been inspired to drive change in the classroom; challenging their school’s use of plastic straws, questioning the carbon footprint of school trips, demanding changes to lunch menus. They then come home and preach the climate change gospel to their parents. I know, I’m one of them.

My own nine-year-old daughter came home last week and proudly announced her new role as ‘Eco-rep’, before complaining about the fact leftovers from school dinners are being put in general waste.

But children are not limiting their passion for all things environmental to the confines of their own homes and classrooms. They’re identifying specific problems and taking their concerns right to the top.

Lego recently announced it will start replacing plastic packaging with paper bags from 2021, a move prompted by letters from children. Charity Comic Relief then revealed Red Nose Day 2021 will feature plastic-free red noses for the first time after schoolchildren asked for a switch to a natural alternative. The pupils from Cornwall even got support from Sir David Attenborough.

Why are big brands paying attention to little kids?

Put simply, children represent an increasingly important demographic to brands.

Firstly, children have significant purchasing power, especially now pocket money is going cashless. A 2019 study of the financial habits of four to 14-year-olds was not based on cash transactions, rather, data from parents who use Rooster Money’s app and preloaded contactless card.

Secondly, children have an increasing say in the buying decisions of their parents. From toys and games to food, and even dining out venues, 87% of parents surveyed say their children influence their purchase decisions.

Last but not least, children are the next generation of consumers, and big businesses recognise the value of laying the groundwork now by listening to what’s important to their future customers.

Why you should engage with young people

This all brings us back to Greta, the children of Fourlanesend Community Primary School in Cornwall, the young Lego enthusiasts and my own eco-rep daughter. What’s important to them is the planet they will inherit.

Just like millennials and generation z, children expect brands to ‘do the right thing’. Putting environmental concerns at the heart of your purpose statement, and actively reducing your environmental impact, will pay dividends.

Aside from green issues, looking at ways to partner with local schools is a great way to show you care about the community your business operates in, and prove you run a business with purpose.

There are lots of ways to get involved with local schools:

  • Showcase student art or science projects.
  • Involve students in environmental projects that relate to your business or organisation
  • Provide curriculum-related speakers assemblies
  • Offer internship or employment opportunities for students
  • Host a visit or tour of your business
  • Provide matching incentives for school fundraising activities

By actively engaging with young people now, you are not only adding brand value, but investing in potential future customers who will reward your purpose-driven business with loyalty in the years to come.

Pelican Communications is a specialist in the environment & CSR, food, packaging & logistics and trade association sectors and offers a range of services such as strategy, design, content creation, public relations and people development. Contact us for marketing and communications expertise.


A Child Shouting Into A Microphone