There’s a persona I almost never hear brands discuss. A voice of the customer which seems to go largely unheard.
Ironically, it’s the kind of person who often becomes a customer for the first time right around the holiday season — when they finally use their allowance on someone other than themselves.
I was reminded of the purchasing power of children (or lack thereof) when my wife told me about her efforts to help one of ours make a purchase with a large, well-known hardware brand. The purchase in question would cost around $25, but the store has a policy in place that, in our town at least, you can’t order for free delivery unless you spend at least $50.
In other words, unless we also buy something of equal or greater value to my child’s gift, that child cannot become a customer.
But what about the children?!
Brands no doubt think it wiser to focus on the parent who gives their child the money, but in reality kids have limited funds to spend on their own and should have some kind of options, particularly during a pandemic, to be given access and ease in purchasing and fulfillment. I’m sure my kid isn’t the only one facing these kinds of barriers.
There’s also a danger in treating kids the same way you would an adult customer. Some months ago, for example, my daughter donated a portion of her allowance to a nearby hospital. She got a personal letter from the hospital’s president, which was a fantastic experience.
Since then, however, she had gotten multiple donor solicitations via surface mail that act as though she earns a full-time income and perhaps owns a home. It’s “personalized” to the extent the letters are addressed to her, but it’s obvious no one has a checkbox in their donor database to indicate “Kid.”
It really shouldn’t be difficult to offer kids a great customer experience. They get excited just walking up to the cash register (when that’s possible) and watching their money turn into stuff. They revel in being treated by businesses as an entity in their own right, rather than just a parental appendage. They also tend to tell everybody —and I mean everybody — if their experience was a positive one.
In the B2B world, we would call kids a “strong influencer.” They shouldn’t necessarily be groomed as ongoing customers, in the sense that it’s all about maximizing your share of their piggy bank, but they should walk away from a brand feeling just as respected and appreciated as anyone else.
We sometimes joke around Christmas time about whether kids are on the “Naughty or Nice” list. As they are exposed to more brands, don’t be too sure they’re not compiling a list of their own.
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.