Giraffe Insights regularly speaks to children about the different aspects of their lives and we are fully immersed in the tweenage universe. Through our research, we are able to explore what really matters to young people, how they spend their time and their relationships with media. It has been interesting to understand how the pandemic has affected young people, the changes in their media usage and how this has impacted the way they find inspiration for purchases. We identified universal behaviours, experiences, and emotions which bound this age group together, enabling brands to communicate directly with their needs and motivations.

“I would always chat to my friends about the latest trend”

Friendships and fitting in are important for generation Alpha especially at the younger age of the spectrum. By the time children reach the age of 10, they are becoming much more independent, breaking away from their parents and becoming more focused and influenced by friends who share common interests and passions with 4 in 10 agreeing they would rather do things that their friends want to do. These statistics highlight the concern in the past year that kids couldn’t access friends in the same way they had done before. 

When it comes to purchasing inspiration in particular friends are critical. We spoke to young people, and they reported that before the coronavirus came round and even now they chat to friends about the latest trends with a third of tweens getting ideas for Birthdays or Christmas from friends. 

“In my opinion, I think social media is the biggest source of influence on teens and young adults throughout the pandemic”

Generation alpha is the first digital innate generation being both curators and consumers of content with half of kids agreeing they’d rather spend time on the internet than watching TV. Over two-thirds of 10-12-year-olds would go as far as to say they could not survive without the internet. Our insights suggest the majority of kids access social media on a typical week using platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Many young people reported being bored during lockdown and therefore this was a time where social media trends escalated. Two-thirds of young people reported spending significantly more time online during the pandemic.

“It was also having a negative impact on a lot of peoples mental health, so it really depends on the type of content people were watching”

Social media can adversely affect the mental health of young people. A third of kids say they feel pressured to look a certain way because of the internet, and over half worry about cyberbullying and mental health.

Despite the negative aspects, it wasn’t all bad. Many kids have been encouraged in their passions and developed new hobbies. Lockdown was a time for kids to stay busy, and social media inspired them to try new hobbies. For example, half of kids reporting exercising more as a result of lockdown. Currently, brands doing well are those that bring passion into play without requiring parents to supervise closely, such as cooking.

Young people also use social media to find out what is going viral on the internet. For example, a third of kids believe it is important to keep up with the latest fashion trends. Furthermore, half of the respondents are more likely to buy something if they see an influencer using it. Influencers are more relatable because you have a better sense of their ‘real life’ than traditional celebrities. 

“For children 10 and below I would say they are more interested in toy ads and videos on Youtube”

In contrast, kids under 10 are more likely to spend time on YouTube and therefore is a key place they get their ideas for toys they may want. This likely reflects the fact that 6 in 10 kids say that YouTube is their favourite way to spend time. YouTube can also be a good tool for brands looking to reach and engage with younger audiences, as the platform shows ads that are relevant or similar to what they are watching.  Funny videos, clipped episodes of television shows, and music clips are the most popular content on this platform. Considering that half of kids say they pay attention to ads, customised communications through YouTube may lead to curiosity about new products.

When creating branded content, keep in mind that young people have high expectations and are highly informed. Since children respond to content that relates to their interests, it is important to tailor communications to specific channels.

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