Kids today… born into the digital world, these digital natives are switched on, savvy and influential.
At PDD we’ve spent a lot of time building up an understanding of kids; helping companies unpick their behaviours and attitudes as well as the social and cultural shifts happening around this cohort to uncover insights that will drive innovation across a range of sectors.
Over the next few months we will be posting a series of blogs that explores different themes surrounding kids; spanning from personal care and beauty, new play paradigms and technology paradox, to changes in attitude towards kids’ health and wellness.
We’re going to kick off this series with Planet and Me, where we will be exploring how kids’ awareness of health and wellness is shifted beyond their ‘self’ and expanding into social and environmental aspects.
A more holistic approach to kids’ health and wellness…
A combination of declining physical activity amongst kids, primarily driven by more screen time, more homework and fear of kids’ safety, as well as increasingly poor diets through the rise in snacking and decline in families eating together, has continued to fuel the global rising rates of childhood obesity. It is of no surprise that kids now are exposed to more health and wellness initiatives, campaigns and advertising than ever before, as governments and organisations across the globe set to tackle the root causes of obesity.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health and wellness as: “the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. We are starting to see this mindset play out through more holistic approaches to kids’ health & wellness.
In Canada, there is a big push in schools to encourage kids to build a more positive relationship with food and love their bodies. In June 2018, the state of California in the U.S put in place a ‘Healthy Kids Meal Bill’ that stated water and milk are to become the default drink choices offered with kids meals instead of sugary drinks. Schools in China have a “Happy 10 minutes” for kids providing a dedicated 10 minutes of exercise per day. And, French schools banned vending machine in 2018 to help prevent unhealthy snacking.
Another significant factor fueling kids’ increased awareness of their own health and wellness is their parents – Millennial parents to be exact. Millennial parents are far more informed about health and nutrition than previous generations and are teaching their kids from a very early age to see food in terms of function and nutrition, rather than just taste and flavour. The Millennial cohort also has a far more holistic view of what ‘healthy’ means which they are passing onto their kid; encompassing exercise, food, environments and experiences that contribute to physical health and promote healthy behaviours, emotional wellbeing and social connection.
Environmental ‘health and wellness’ high on kids’ agenda…
Over the past few years, sustainability and environmental issues have come to the forefront of kids’ agenda as they are becoming increasingly concerned about the future of their planet. A combination of raised awareness through the media and school initiatives that are teaching kids about sustainability and the environmental impact of human behaviour are starting to embed ‘good environmental behaviours’ in the next generation.
As a result, kids nowadays are more clued up than their parents about environmental issues and are becoming a significant force of influence in households. What’s more, we are seeing a wave of ‘mini eco-warriors’ such as Greta Thunberg, taking centre stage in the media and going up against world leaders to take action, inspiring younger generations to safeguard the planet for their future and generations beyond.
Image credit: Instagram
With all of this in mind, we’ve taken a look at some of the different ways that ‘holistic health and wellness’ is manifesting for kids…
Fostering emotional and mental wellbeing through nature
There has been an increase in popularity amongst Millennial parents, who are generally taking a more laid-back approach to parenthood, of outdoor activities and risky play, giving kids the freedom to take calculated risks and make decisions themselves. Over the past decade, the UK has seen the rise in popularity of forest nurseries, schools and outdoor learning classrooms aimed at enabling kids to learn about the natural world whilst developing self-esteem and confidence through practical and hands-on learning experiences in either woodland or forest-style setting, which has been proven to foster emotional and mental wellbeing.
Image credit: Forest School Kindergarten
Changing attitudes towards healthy eating through new learning experiences
Allergic to Salad is a U.S company that is tackling head-on the age-old child-to-parent negotiations around greens. Allergic to Salad offers after-school cooking classes, events and parties for elementary-aged students focused on healthy eating. Their name was born out of the numerous complaints from kids in cooking classes of “I don’t like vegetables”, ”I’m allergic to salad!” and general dislike of most things green. Their work aims to: “combat the widespread “allergy”, while increasing skills, technique, and familiarity with healthy foods, and creating a platform for a lifetime of nourishing exploration through hands-on, activity-filled classes.”
Image credit: Allergic to Salad
Encourage caring, nurturing and empathy across genders
The past few years have seen the toy industry focusing on addressing ‘gender toy stereotypes’, breaking down the blue-pink divide with a big push for toys encouraging more girls in STEM subjects.
However, a new focus is starting to take centre stage with a wave of toys based on caring, nurturing and empathy (which have largely been targeted towards girls until now) that are gender-neutral or aimed more towards boys. It is widely known that allowing kids to fall into only one category of play (girls who play with dolls will develop nurturing and caring skills, while boys who play with blocks will build math skills) inhibits their ability to develop a full range of critical skills and attitudes that they will need in life.
We expect to see an increase in toys emerging over the coming years that are designed and marketed more open and accessible to both genders to ensure kids access a board range of toys and associated skills through play.
Scruff-a-Luvs are ‘abandoned pet’ plush toys that arrive as a sad ball of matted fur that kids need to wash, dry and brush to reveal what type of pet they are.
Image credit: Scruff-a-Luvs
‘Doll of the Year’ winners from the 2018 Toy of the Year Awards, Wonder Crew, are dolls ‘inspired by boys’ and the lack of gender-neutral role-play dolls and nurturing based toys.
Each doll comes in a range of characters and skin tones, and are packaged with dress-up gear so that the child and doll can take on the same pretend persona — superheroes, firefighters, astronauts or other adventurous duos. The company’s mission is “to empower all children to see themselves as connected, creative, strong people with the ability to go anywhere. Be anything.”
Image credit: Wonder Crew
Eco-products for kids
There is an ever-expanding range of eco products designed specifically for kids across categories from clothing through to personal care and toys, offering kids and parents alike eco-friendly alternatives that don’t compromise on quality and style.
Green Toys brand has created a range of eco-friendly toys and tableware manufactured in California, US and made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastics locally sourced; benefits of domestic manufacturing include reducing transportation emissions, helping to provide jobs and stimulating the economy.
Image credit: Green Toys
Jack N’ Jill biodegradable toothbrushes are made from 100% non-GMO corn starch and free of chemical nasties such as BPA. The corn starch handle typically takes around 90 days to break down in a commercial composting system, whilst the soft Nylon bristles are recyclable.
Image credit: Jack N’ Jill
LA-based kids clothing brand Beru Kids focus on making ‘cool items and a positive social impact’ for boys and girls aged 1-7 years. Almost all of their fabrics are organic and sourced locally; on occasion the company also uses surplus fabric from other fashion brands to make their clothing, preventing it from ending up in the landfill.
Equally important to this brand is its belief that all kids should get to just be kids with a percentage of profits given back to organisations that focus their projects on children’s education and extracurricular activities in East Africa.
Image credit: Beru Kids
If you would like to find out more about how we can help you uncover consumer insights and opportunities in your market, please contact us.