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The kidult generation

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Shalini Rawla

Shalini Rawla, Managing Consultant,
The Key – Consumer Diagnostics and Intelligence

Who are kids? Nobody who is 8-12 years old considers himself/herself a kid. Kids to them are less than five years old who have not yet started going to a proper school. Kids are those who watch Doraemon, Barbie and Chhota Bheem. Kids are those whose mothers help in homework. Kids are those who are still into board games, art & craft and soft toys and spend most of their time at home. The ones who go to tuitions on their own are adults. The ones who have a 9 AM – 6 PM day out like their dads and sometimes moms, are actually adults. The ones who like Shin Chan and Power Rangers are adults.

Those who were once considered the latchkey generation, today is the kidult generation. Kidult is not kiddie. Kidult is cool. Kidult is aspirational. Kidult is something what the adults do, done in a child like manner. The coding is very adult for everything they do – eat, wear and play with. They have Facebook accounts, they have ‘cooldude’ and ‘hotgal’ as email ids. They chat on the net. They understand logic. They are the Smiley SMS Gen as the only language they converse in is visual. They read visually and communicate in abbreviations. And  that is why they hate language (Marathi/Sanskrit/Hindi) as a subject but love Math, Geometry and Speech and Drama. Brevity is in their DNA. Short attention span is the key trait and subjects that demand objective and logical answers are nice. Long sentences are their bane. The power of expression of words is lost on them. Potter’s wand is finally mightier than the pen.

Mobile phones (read smartphones and tablets), MP3 (read iPods), Play Stations (read PS3 or Wii), Laptops are the kidult ‘gifts’ they demand and get from their parents. All these are expensive and adult like. Gone are the days when Pokemon cards and Tazzo collectibles were traded. Now GTAs, CS and Soccer games are the mobile apps they use and share. Or better still play against each other – not face to face but online in front of two PCs in the same room!

Certainly, they are growing older younger. And adopting the adult way of life much earlier. So the toy laptop morphs into a real one as soon as they start going to school. As they grow older, they quickly move away from animation to live action, from kids’ channels to GECs and from fairy tales to reality – all this while we still call them kids.

Then should we market to them in the same manner as we do with the adults? Certainly not. Avoiding long copy and providing visual text apart, within this age cohort are smaller homogeneous behavioural sub segments.

Copy, Create and Conform are the three key cognitive behaviours across this age cohort. The youngest age of formal school goers viz 7-9 years is prone to copying role models. Hence Hannah Montana, Power Rangers and Michael Jackson define what they like and do.  The next segment of 10-12 years old are the most creative. As indeed was Harry Potter when he entered Hogwarts or Mowgli when he was sent to the man village. Brands can get them to co-create new concepts and start an indelible connection and engagement with them by creating a unique experience for them. The last cohort of 13-15 years is the one that chooses to conform to what the cohort as a whole does. They dress alike, behave alike and sometimes even look alike. Their parents become less and less influential and peers become more and more important. As is evident with Harry Potter when he formed Dumbledore’s Army, a secret study group, to teach his classmates the higher-level skills of Defence Against the Dark Arts that he had learnt.

Brands must understand whom they are targeting when they say kids. And for starters, they should stop addressing them as kids. As they are kidults having fun with their own versions of kidultery across various ages.

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