Don't Treat Kids With Kid Gloves
For a living I speak with a lot of people. From CEO's to Regular Joes and everyone in-between. Doctors, mechanics, food preparers, professors, benefit administrators, people who pay their bills online...you get the picture. Now, it's my job to figure out how to talk to these guys and ask the right questions so I can go back to my clients and tell them what they need to know to execute an effective marketing strategy.
Most audiences I can take in my stride, but there is one that will send shivers up the spine of the most seasoned researcher: kids. Sorry, let me clarify that. Little Kids.
It's not that the small people are scary - far from it. It's more of the fact that highly effective marketing strategies and 5 year olds are almost at odds with one another. In the red corner, we have market segmentation and bivariate regression. In the blue corner we have Spongebob Squarepants and ponies. Ding ding.
The challenge is, how do we get kids and marketing to mix?
If there is one thing I've learned from being a parent and a professional researcher for 15 years it is this: do not treat kids with kid gloves. They're not stupid. They can grasp pretty much any concept as long as you give them the tools to express themselves. Let me illustrate the point by means of a quick example.
Recently I was touring the state of Oklahoma conducting research with kids. I wanted to know what the kids thought of three different advertising concepts. Even though storyboards were used, the kids had absolutely no problem understanding the concepts (they have better imaginations than most adults). But when it came time to rating the concepts, we wanted to use a rating system that was appropriate to the audience. That meant NOT using bi-polar or likert rating scales.
So, we used BIG THUMBS. Thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs somewhere in-between. And what a great system it was. Even the shyest of children can clearly and enthusiastically express their thoughts when a big blue thumb is involved!
Whether thumbs are used or not, my point is that whenever we conduct research we have to provide the appropriate tools so the audience can express themselves clearly. Engagement is the key to successful and awesome marketing research.