Why Does My Child Want Me to Buy OxiClean?

I am a mother of three and I am always shocked by the extent of what influences my young children. While we try to control the influencers, it doesn’t take much to leave an impression. It never ceases to amaze me when driving down the road or shopping with the kids what they recognize and ask for by name. I will never forget my four-year-old in the grocery story asking, as I am purchasing another brand of detergent, “Why don’t we use OxiClean™?” So I ask her how she knows about that brand, as we have never used it before. She of course proceeds to tell me she has seen it on TV. If the TV is on at our house, it is either Disney Jr™ or NickJr™ in the background while the kids are playing, but sure enough one night I saw an advertisement for OxiClean™. The researcher in me kicked in and I started to analyze every request my kids made. Of course anything even loosely associated with the movie and characters of Frozen™ was a must buy to them…they didn’t care what was inside the package. It must be something fun if it had Frozen™ imagery on the front.

So at what age does brand loyalty start and how does the thinking of brand loyalty change over time?
Young, fickle, easily influenced kids are expressing brand preferences at an earlier age. Experts say children can express brand awareness as early as age two, an awareness encouraged and exploited by a world that offers more choices than ever before. Kids are also now more exposed to the world, both physically and virtually, and because of this exposure they are getting older younger.

So what hooks kids at such a young age? It takes a lot to make them loyal to a brand but what hooks them are the positive experiences they associate with a brand? For kids it is all about comfort and fun. They don’t necessarily remember what a food item tastes like, but they will remember the fun toy, and colors and experiences they had as part of the process. I have done my own experiment taking foods they typically may not eat, changing the form factor to create a fun experience or new way to eat something. What was something they wouldn’t eat before now quickly disappears when it is a smoothie put into a Frozen™ cup.

Creating meaning in the mind of a child is the way brand awareness is turned into brand loyalty. Driving the experience and emotional connection is the window to create meaning. However, the notion of brand loyalty is rapidly changing even starting with the young children. Brand loyalty may be a thing of the past. Kids today are exposed to so many more products in part because this generation of mothers is more willing to try new things. They have more options than the generation before grew up with.

There is a knee-jerk change happening in marketing methods and dynamics
Brands are scrambling to capture new revenue streams by doing ‘moment marketing’ because that is the demand—for the here and now, quick fixes for my need in the moment. But is this sustainable? Surely by definition ‘moment marketing’ is transient in character and in the subconscious of the consumer and therefore doesn’t allow for consumer engagement or creating those memorable experiences that were ever so important to us as a child and still are as an adult.

There is real danger out there for companies. Brands must engage in a new way with consumers who are not only becoming more diverse, but wiser about their purchasing habits and more mindful of living healthier lifestyles. Stimulated by sensationalism, social media trends and a generational force that is changing how brands earn loyalty and trust, consumers have become more critical and cynical. Once household names viewed as innovators, brands like Sears, Blackberry, SPAM and Kodak are today being challenged to survive, let alone compete.

We live in an experience-driven world. Consumers gravitate toward those experiences that provide them with the stimulation they are looking for. People have become sensitive about how they spend their time and what inspires them to do so. When brands begin to cut-corners, quality suffers and it is reflected in how a product tastes, smells, feels—and this is when the consumer begins to feel let-down or to stray. Brands should not be looking only to sell things in a moment; rather they should be exploring ways to build relationships, feed the connection, listen and become a voice that takes action on what you hear from your consumers.

Get the experience right and build a long-term consumer
Starbucks is one company that I feel has been successful at getting the experience right and why customers are willing to pay a premium price for a cup of coffee. Starbucks empowers their consumers by making them feel that there is an immediate return on their loyalty investment that comes right back to them.

Just as a child seeking the experience, brands should not overlook being more experiential as a means to build brand loyalty. A brick and mortar store like Starbucks can envelop all your senses from sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. For those only responding to the moment, or seeking to drive internet based sales, the challenge is how can you offer a greater experience and tap into the emotional connectors of an anonymous consumer.

Diane Prickel

Fellow

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