I have recently had the opportunity to review an on-going study that tracks the spending habits of children 5-16 years old. It is based upon research done by Fam-ess, a company that promotes healthy spending habits as children so they stay out of debt as adults. I found it to be an invaluable tool for better understanding what toys and playthings children (not their parents) currently see as having the greatest value.
Michelle Salsberry, fam-ess founder, discovered that in doing her research, she was able to find significant information on, for examples, upon which toys children wanted to spend their money. As a result she has created Trend Reports on toys; games & cards; electronics; movies, music, & books; experiences; apparel & shoes; arts & crafts; build & construct; dolls & action figures; make-up, hair, & accessories; apps & video games; pets; sporting goods; and treats. Revenue from the selling the reports helps Fam-ess pay for financial education and entrepreneurship programs in schools.
Michelle has an MBA and 20 years of marketing experience. She started Fam-ess in 2014, with the name standing for for "Family first, Earn always, Save Often, Spend wisely." She and her team create tools that empower people to stay out of debt by helping them determine if what they want is worth working for, and then share ways to help them earn more, for the things the really want. While doing this she and her team grow to understand the things that people want and value the most.
Richard: Tell us some of what you have learned about kids spending habits?
Michelle: Kids don’t go “bananas” when spending their own money. When asked what kids want while spending someone else’s money, the answers are endless. When faced with how to spend their own, hard-earned money, their wants become thoughtful and deliberate. Since it is harder to part with something they’ve had to earn, they value what they buy even more.
Richard: Why does that matter?
Michelle: As a parent, it matters because you know what is ultimately purchased, is more valued, and your kids will take better care of their stuff. Kids begin to understand that wants require work, so their spending decisions are more thoughtful and not wistful.
As a toy-maker or retailer, understanding kids true wants helps focus years of creation, manufacturing and marketing into toys/things kids really value and will want more of, versus fleeting fads, or something they discard after one sitting.
Richard: Why is your data different?
Michelle: With post-purchase data, you don’t have insight of whom really inspired the purchase. Did mom or dad decide to buy the item? Grandma? A friend? That kind of data can’t inform intent, or therefore interest of the end-user.
We know. In the case of our data, our users are the kids themselves who are making wish lists of ways to spend their own money. Our app translates the price of a wanted item into the number of chores or tasks they have to do in order to afford the item, so right away kids can determine if an item is worth working for, or left on shelf. Therefore, the items on their wish list are truer to what they value the most.
As a marketer, focusing on the things kids want the most, and not just what mom and grandma buy for them, will have a better chance of succeeding in the long run.
Richard: So, what do kids spend the most money on?
Michelle: Interests are different by age group, so our data is segmented by both age and gender so our industry partners can focus on what matters most to their business.
We help categorize interest level across 14 categories including toys, games & cards, dolls & action figures, apparel and more. Generally, this is how kids choose to divide their spending between the ages of 5-16. These interest levels rise and fall depending on age and we compare and contrast those differences so our industry partners can hone in on who their products resonate with the most.
Richard: What trends are hot right now?
Michelle: We have seen an interesting evolution of the fidget category over the last two years. This infographic helps visualize what has occurred in the category, and where new ideas may be trending. Kids continue to look for ways to exert energy, relieve stress and create collections, this category will continue to evolve for some time.