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Generation C: A New Demo Shaped by Covid-19

Meet Generation C. As defined in a new report from SuperAwesome – a kids-focused compliance firm — this cohort of six to 16-year-olds is worth examining due to the ways the pandemic is impacting their lives. Moreover, and perhaps importantly for marketers, Gen C feels empowered and wields great influence. There’s arguably never been a better time to tap into the $1.7 billion kids’ digital ad market. Here are a few characteristics that help define this cohort.

They Exert More Household Purchasing Power
Months of quarantining measures means kids and teenagers have more say in what happens at home. Domestic domains that were historically controlled by parents, including meal planning and grocery shopping, have now evolved to include Gen C members as nearly equal decision-makers. Case in point: 65 percent of kids are doing breakfast differently in lockdown. Many help prepare more meals, giving them louder voices when it comes to food-purchasing decisions. Leisurely mornings sans the typical school rush translate to an increase in cooked breakfasts, as opposed to a simple bowl of cereal, plus extra time spent thinking about nutrition. Ditto for lunch, a meal almost 40 percent of kids now claim responsibility for prepping, thus speaking to heightened levels of accountability and kitchen domesticity. Come chore time, over 80 percent are tidying up for themselves, which could arguably lead to preferences for cleaning products plus organizational items. More family time together means parents are treating kids like equals. “That’s then giving them much more influence over things like ecommerce and household purchasing decisions,” SuperAwesome CEO Dylan Collins told Adweek. Over 60 percent say they now take part in online grocery shopping, and ecommerce usage has soared by nearly 72 percent due to the pandemic, providing an opportunity for kids and teens to start developing their own brand loyalties.

They Spend Time on Screens
It’s no secret that all of us are watching more TV—but the biggest increase has been among children and teens. Midday viewership jumped over 300 percent for six to 17-year-olds, according to Nielsen data. Difficult lockdown days have further led to a loosening of traditionally strict screen-time rules, and roughly 65 percent of kids now report perusing social media before bed, while 60 percent unwind by playing video or mobile games. In fact, digital entertainment consumption has skyrocketed: over 60 percent of kids play more video games and watch more YouTube than during pre-pandemic days. Brands are well aware of those realities. Popular gaming platforms like Roblox and Fortnite regularly attract millions of viewers with their virtual concert performances.

As a result of the pandemic, TV has once again become a central hub for families who are spending more time viewing content as a unit, rather than each member dispersing to access his or her own phone, laptop or tablet. That’s led to an increase of co-consumption programming that’s appropriate for children and parents alike. Netflix capitalized on offerings like Despicable Me and The Willoughbys, Tubi won with family-friendly offerings including Shrek: Forever After, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Escape from Planet Earth, and on Disney+, The Mandalorian and Star Wars: The Clone Wars are popular with families.

They Can’t Wait to Go Back to School
Months of homeschooling and isolation mean Gen C members are eager for the start of school this fall. Nearly 90 percent of students 16 or younger report looking forward to being back in classrooms. If fall does mark the return to school this year, brands have a unique chance to treat this season like a celebration, offering new outfits, supplies and digital toolkits to help kids and teens prepare for the much-anticipated return. TikTok led that charge with its #LearnOnTikTok programs, which represent a departure from the platform’s normally lighthearted entertainment offerings. While the educational content does provide opportunities for lockdown learning, partnerships with companies like It Gets Better also offer advice on how to mindfully consider gender identity when back to socializing with peers.

By restructuring the daily lives of under-17-year-olds, the global pandemic is helping shape a new generation of kids and young adults. That means marketers have novel chances to connect with this demographic in impactful and potentially long-lasting ways.