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Marketing to Kids: Not Exactly Child’s Play

“Kid Influencer” is a new term. But asking children to urge other children to convince their parents to buy something is nothing new. It’s been used to hawk toys, toy stores and cereals for just about as long as advertising existed in the U.S.

I remember hearing about “secret decoder” rings sold in the back of comic books in the 50s. I think I’ve even seen them on E-Bay.

The “I’m a Toys-R-Us Kid” jingle still resonates with many, even though the chain has been closed for years. And no one can escape the plethora of TV commercials featuring kids playing with toys that pop up starting around Thanksgiving.

If you miss them on the TV networks, you are bound to see them in pre-roll on websites — especially sites with video content. These spots rev up kids who begin to pester parents and relatives as Christmas approaches.

Kid Influencers are a little different in that they become celebrities themselves on sites like YouTube and Instagram. YouTube has the most Kid Influencers under 12, with some attracting millions of viewers and making millions of dollars. In their videos, the kids are doing simple things like unboxing, assembling and trying out the latest toys from Imaginex, Lego, Mattel and others.

They play games like hide-and-seek around the house and yard. Sometimes the kids talk silly to each other, or they just play and have fun — in other words, kids being kids.

“What’s so interesting about watching a kid playing games or doing ordinary things?” I asked my eight-year-old grandson Nico. He replied, “Why do adults watch TV shows of adults doing ordinary things?” I thought of Seinfeld— the show about people “doing nothing” — and I got his point.

The videos are usually produced by their parents, and the quality varies. You’ll usually see production values improve as viewership increases.

How big are little kids as influencers?

  • MediaKix says Ryan of Ryan’s ToysReview is the most-subscribed child on YouTube, with 9.4 million subscribers and more than 16.5 trillion video views. Yes, that’s trillion with a “T.” He’s just 6 years old!
  • Evan of the YouTube channel EvanTubeHD is a 12-year-old toy reviewer with 4.6 million viewers. According to Business Insider, he earns $1.3 million a year.
  • Five-year-old Naiah and six-year-old Elli are the kid influencers behind the YouTube toy parody channel Naiah and Elli Toys Show. You can often watch Mom, Naiah and Elli head to Walmart and perform silly skits as well as toy unboxings.

Toy companies started suppling the latest toys to these kid influencers with high numbers of subscribers a while ago. That’s now standard practice.

And kids aren’t the only influencers for kids. Twenty-seven-year-old Dan Middleton of England has 22 million subscribers on YouTube. His worldwide key audience demo is 6-12 years old. His primary YouTube channels are Dan TDM and More TDM.

Dan has been active since 2012; his videos usually feature him playing Minecraft, Fortnite and other popular games. My grandson and I drove to Canton to see “The Contest,” his interactive film event.

Dan is enthusiastic, clean-cut and seems like he’s having fun. And he brings in about $16.5 million a year. That’s fun right?

If you have a product or service kids seem to like, quit playing around. Make your marketing plan around this fact: the way to a parent’s wallet is through the eyes and ears of their child.

About The Author

  • Author | George Farris
George Farris is CEO and Senior Brand Coach at Farris Marketing. Connect with George on LinkedIn using the icons above.

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