Age Convergence; Not Age Compression


Those of us in the business of play spend a great amount of time thinking about the convergence of the physical and the digital.  Disney Infinity, Activision Skylanders are the two leaders in the 
phygital (physical + digital = phygital) category, which appears to be moving from being just a play segment to becoming to becoming the standard for play. 

There is, however, another type of convergence taking place and that is the way children and adults choose to entertain themselves.  That thought came to mind when I read an article by New York Times writer, Julie Turkewitz, entitled "After a Spa Day, Looking Years Younger (O.K., They’re Only 7)."

Here is how the article describes a phenomenon in which children, as young as four, are getting the spa treatment:

The spa industry has begun to target children in a big way, going way beyond mother-daughter manicures. Adult spas are adding separate menus of services for girls, usually ages 4 to 14. In most major cities, there are now dedicated day spas for children, offering a range of massages, facials and other treatments for girls (and sometimes boys) too young to have had their first pimple.

Lest you think that this is a New York or Los Angeles, phenomenon, let me assure you that you can find a “Sweet and Sassy” spa and salon in Tampa, Florida; Denver, Colorado; Cummings, Georgia and Pearland, Texas.

Keep that in mind for a minute as you think about the recent advertisements for chocolate flavored vitamins for adults and the use of Skeletor, He-Man and Stretch Armstrong to sell cars.  Think about the number of adults who collect action figures and play video games while at the same time bring to mind all the children who use cell phones and tablets.

The walls between childhood and adult play are collapsing which creates opportunities and obstacles.  Yes, kids are indeed getting older younger but at the same time adults are getting younger older.  I think that those who engage in the supply of play consider these questions:

1. Does my product, now directed at children, have applications for adult play?  If so, do I need to create an adult version or do I just need to change my package or product positioning.

2. Should I be reconsider how I market by product if I am currently aiming at children alone?

3. How does my marketing give adults permission to play with my company’s toy or game?

4. If I am a retailer, how do I make adult shoppers feel comfortable in my toy and gaming departments?

5. Do I have sufficient research on adult play consumers to make decisions as to the above questions?

Age compression is a problem; age convergence is an opportunity.  


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