Market research firm Kids Insights, who conduct the UK’s most comprehensive, reliable and regular surveys into the attitudes and preferences of children and tweens, have published their latest trend predictions for the next 12 months.
The Future Forecast report, which is based on Kids Insights’ unrivalled expertise by surveying more than 400 different children per week (20,000 a year) in the UK, and 20,000 in the US, is produced annually.
The document is avidly awaited every year by brand managers, retailers, marketeers and advertising agencies who want to get the inside track on Kids Insights’ predictions for the year ahead. Companies and brands who already subscribe to Kids Insights’ data include BBC, SEGA, Hasbro and Warner Bros.
One of the key predictions in this year’s Future Forecast report is that YouTube’s popularity is plateauing and will start declining among children. Recently a report by Ofcom that YouTube was the most popular platform for children to consume video content and that 89% of 12-15 year olds now watched YouTube regularly. https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/media/media-releases/2019/why-children-spend-time-online
However, Kids Insights’ data reveals that over the last year they have seen the number of children spending time each day watching YouTube decline from 61% to 51%, and that even among older children (10-15 year olds) the proportion watching anything on YouTube has dropped from 65.4% to 54.8% in the last 12 months.
Future Forecast further predicts that established channels like YouTube will be challenged the emergence of new platforms such as the child-friendly, short-form mobile video platform TikTok .
Kids Insights were the first market intelligence company to highlight the emergence of Fortnite in September 2017. It has identified that 10% of girls aged 10-12 in the UK used the TikTok social app in the last quarter of 2018.
The report goes on predict that the TikTok could become the new ‘Snapchat’ having already successfully launched in Asia and the USA.
A further threat to dominance of YouTube predicted in the report is the continual rise of gaming, especially within the esports arena. Girls in particular are increasingly embracing esports, both as viewers and players, and this is set to reduce more of YouTube’s younger audience.
The growing popularity of Smart Speakers and virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa among children is another rapidly emerging trend. Ownership of Smart Speakers in the UK increased by 76% in 2018, meaning 1 in 5 children now have access to voice activated services. Use of such voice-based systems by children also rose by over 83% in the last 12 months.
As a result, Kids Insights predicts that after ‘Generation Type’ and ‘Generation Swipe’, ‘Generation Speak’ is set to make voice activation the preferred operating system for children over the next 12 months.
Other key predictions from the report is that the direct-to-consumer revolution, known as ‘over the top’ (OTT) will really kick in in 2019. Examples are Netflix by-passing linear TV, but brands as diverse as DC Comics and Formula 1 have launched their own video-on-demand services.
In the gaming market Fortnite is the obvious OTT trend setter, but Epic Games have cut out Google Store to sell direct, and EA is launching its own gaming services.
The girl gaming phenomenon is another ‘sleeper’ trend, with the £130bn sector not yet fully waking up to the fact it has now overtaken shopping as a hobby and that growth among girls in esports is outpacing that of boys.
The popularity of gaming also informs another prediction in the report; more regulation around in-app purchases sold to children through ‘free’ games.
Following the Gambling Commission’s view that gaming can be a route into betting with youngsters exposed to gambling through loot boxes in video games and apps, Kids Insights believes that there will soon be calls for legal changes to regulate the gambling element of gaming to provide children with more protection.
Other Future Forecast predictions include major changes in how brands present their products due to increased levels of environmental concern – in 1 in 3 children now think about the effect of their actions on the environment, up from in 1 in 4 in early 2018. Kids Insights’ analysts say this will start to bring changes in packaging and give brands a way to regain some consumer trust.
Finally, Future Forecast gives some hope for the High Street. Teens with more independent spending power than ever before show high levels of interest in retail destinations becoming social hubs and experience locations– no doubt as a way of spending time with peers in the physical realm after the significant periods spent online.
Kids Insights predict this will see retailers and brands investing in more collaborative, social and interactive experiences instore – aimed at kids – which will go much further than just cosmetic ‘retail theatre’.
Nick Richardson, CEO of The Insights People, which produces the Kids Insights’ Future Forecast reports, said:
“It would be a brave organisation to predict the decline of YouTube, but whether it’s through the rising popularity of collaborative activities, such as commenting on esports online or making fun videos with friends to post on TikTok, a decline in children undertaking passive activities like watching YouTube looks inevitable.
“Similarly, Gen Speak – children using a smart speaker to call up content, answer a homework question or order a new pair of trainers with their own pre-paid credit card – is rapidly becoming the new normal in many homes, and we see this trend continuing.
“What Future Forecast also reveals is that it’s not enough for marketeers to simply react to top-line data which tells what happened last year. They need to get under the skin of the data, make connections between what’s on the rise and what’s declining, and track trends from their early inception.”
“This is because kids are increasingly making their own decisions about what they want, how they want it and when. The cultural, social, financial and technical ecosystem of children is also rapidly converging, simultaneously fragmenting audiences even further as more peer-to-peer collaborative content is developed and more special interest communities evolve.”
In addition to anticipating the rise of Fortnite, Kids Insights also spotted the emergence of flash trends like Fidget Spinners in 2017 and the growing popularity of Slime in 2018.
Last year’s Future Forecast report also predicted that co-creation was set to become a major driver of kid’s content, that esports would begin to move further into the cultural mainstream, that voice activation systems would proliferate rapidly, and that there would be moves towards creating a more child-safe internet.
A 17-page summary of the Kids Insights’ 2019 Future Forecast report capturing all the key trends and top-line data is available as a free download via www.kidsinsights.co.uk/futureforecast