Young people today seem to intuitively understand that their ideas and experiments are not just a hobby, but rather, are potentially viable business opportunities for tomorrow. Kids believe they can achieve business success largely because Millennials enjoy “near ubiquitous” exposure to entrepreneurship, according to the Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit promoter of entrepreneurship.
Photo: iStock/TERADAT SANTIVIVUT
They’ve been influenced by Mark Zuckerberg’s rise to billionaire status by age 23 and by such TV shows as “Money Tigers” (stylized after its Japanese debut into “Dragons’ Den,” “Shark Tank,” and other names in nearly 30 countries). Inspired by the stories they see and read about, many young people have turned their innovation ideas into a reality. These upstarts represent the future brands of tomorrow.
Born between 1996 and 2010, members of Generation Z make up 1.9 billion globally, according to GettingGenZ.com. With these digital native teens coming of age this year, it is imperative for brands to come to grips with their needs and wants.
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Kidpreneurs, who are members of Generation Z, are not just technology-obsessed kids. Don’t underestimate them. They already hold the key to $44 billion in spending power, according to J. Walter Thompson Intelligence. They have tremendous worth as consumers and worldwide contributors.
Entrepreneurialism is key to this demographic group, as 72% want to start their own business, according to research by Millennial Branding. Some 42% expect to work for themselves in some way and 65% are confident that they will experience more financial success than their parents, according to a study by Northeastern University. In 2016, especially, they are beginning to reveal their exceptional potential, drive, and ambition at unusually young ages, while quickly moving into the grown-up world via their own business start-ups and savvy career moves.
DRIVERS AND IMPACTS
Technology, the media, retail, and social media drive this savvy demographic group. These drivers have manifested themselves in a variety of ways that appeal to kidpreneuers’ sensibilities.
Photo: iStock/Christopher Futcher
- Technology is integral to the future success of Kidpreneurs’ businesses, and they admit they wouldn’t be where they are without it. Key devices include iMacs and Dell Inspiron laptops for presentations, and applications such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Skype for meetings. Of course, social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter are used on a daily basis. In fact, according to research from Marketo, 40% of Gen Z spends three or more hours a day on computers for non-school related activities, and prefer to do so across five devices. Members of this group also use wearable devices, including the Microsoft Band watch, so they can keep track of everything while on the go.
- Blogs such asWeWoreWhat and The Coveteur as well as magazines including Nylon, Vogue, and Seventeen are popular leisure reading for this group. But these ambitious young teens aren’t afraid to aim high when it comes to media. Even if they only get the gist of the content, they indulge in books that feature entrepreneurs and role models who inspire and educate, such as Daymond John’s The Brand Within and Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry.
- Unlike many of their peers, kidpreneurs’ careers aren’t fashion-focused. They don’t care much for fashion labels. Anything that is comfortable and aids them in their day-to-day lives and career goals will do just fine. Brands such as Toms, which have a story behind them and promote ethical design, appeal to this group. Those that are in the fashion industry certainly know who’s who, balancing high-end with High Street and boutique – think Alexander Wang, Adidas, and CatBird NYC.
- Juggling a business and education leaves little time to browse in-store, apart from when travelling. Then, they like brick-and-mortar experiences at places such as Selfridges or Australia’s largest mall, Chadstone. This group enjoys shopping quickly, often online at sites such as Nasty Gal and Zulily.com to fit in with their seven-day-week schedules. Their entrepreneurship informs their purchasing decisions, as they understand cost price. It also increases their admiration for the time and effort that goes into both product development and marketing.
- Instagram is the Kidpreneurs’ favorite social media platform. They use it to share news about their brand story and progress, and for updates on products. Facebook is less popular and used much less regularly since Instagram is the most relevant and popular social media right now for their peers. Business-focused YouTube channels aren’t a priority just yet, but they will be in the future.
CAPTURING THE MARKET
CBX taught 9- to 12-year-olds about branding and environment design as they worked together to develop this lemonade stand built by Big Apple Visual Group. While the proceeds from sales at a busy Manhattan plaza went to the charity that organized the program, the kids learned business skills for retail.
Although they may be small in stature, members of this demographic are serious about success. Keep these strategies in mind when considering how to connect with Kidpreneurs:
- Take them seriously. Kidpreneuers aren’t just children with income to spend. These are motivated, business-minded people who are learning the art of success by putting their ideas to work. They represent the future brands of tomorrow, and wield a great deal of influence already.
- Get them plugged in. As part of Gen Z, this group is highly versed in technology and multitasking. Introduce apps, software, or wearables that simplify their complex lives, and make it easy for them to connect with your brand.
- Be an educator. Kidpreneurs are inquisitive, so look for ways to educate them about how to be successful in business. Give them tools to understand costs and strategies to help them become profitable in their ventures. Inspire them with content through media outlets that matter to them.
- Go beyond the surface. Relate stories about how your brand is making an impact in the world beyond just sales. Social responsibility is attractive to Gen Z, so get beyond the superficial fashion trends and offer more for Kidpreneurs to chew on.
- Value their time. Although they are young, these kids are busier than ever and place a great deal of value on time. Online and mobile channels should emphasize efficiency and ease of purchase. Make sure costs are easy to find as well.
- Get social. Don’t waste time on social media channels where Kidpreneurs aren’t spending much time, such as Facebook. Deliver lively, engaging content on Instagram, Snapchat, Whisper, Secret, and YouTube, for example.