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“Unprecedented.” It’s a simple word to describe what has been a very (very!) Complicated 2020. In a good year, most children’s content takes 18 months to get to the screen. This means that the creators are now planning a 2022 release for a recently lit series. But how do you plan for two years when the present is unprecedented?
From the “silent generation” influenced by a pair of world wars to a successful “baby boomer” that spoke only of promise and potential, to the launch of the internet and all that it entailed, few events global organizations have the power to collectively shape a generation. But for today’s Gen Alphas and Gen Z, COVID-19 is likely to be one of those defining experiences.
So how can the industry plan for a post-pandemic future? To get started, you need to speak to your audience today. Experts from Disney, MarketCast Kids and Dubit went straight to the source, checking with families how their lives had changed to discern what new trends and habits are likely to have stamina. There is still time to subscribe to our Virtual children of 2022 lecture series for even more forward-looking public information.
By: David Kleeman and Adam Woodgate
Over the years, Dubit’s research has consistently shown that the greatest desire of children is to spend more time with their parents. But there is a disconnect between what children want and what is actually going on. About 70% of young people in the US, UK, France, Italy and Brazil say they enjoy doing things with their family, but well less than a quarter say they do it on a daily basis.
So it’s no surprise that in the face of this devastating and invisible threat, families opened up while they were locked up. They have tightened their nuclear orbit and deepened their bonds, quickly adopting new habits and traditions of togetherness that they plan to carry on even as the world opens up.
Unsurprisingly, “more” better describes media usage during lockdown. Families have added services and ditched screen time restrictions.
All subscription entertainment has increased significantly year over year, and premium VOD service purchases have increased by over 40%. We predicted that families could cut back, given the economic uncertainty of closures, layoffs and working from home. Yet in the short term, almost all parents said the additional costs for home entertainment were offset by lockdown limitations, such as closed theaters or sports disruption.
Family entertainment practices have also become more “smart”. Parents have done their best to make the alternative activities feel special, brightening up movie nights with candy and popcorn, or bringing warmth to the evening with hot chocolate, marshmallows and sleepovers. .
Many have organized game nights or quizzes with extended family through Zoom. A father taught his son a new skill (leaving the mother without fun): “My son played online poker with his dad and he liked it a little too much, I think. “
Tweens and older teens have exploited all communication platforms to stay close to their friends. Kids are “hanging out” in Fortnite Creative, talking about games in Discord, and using adult video chat platforms in greater numbers than ever before.
When children are overwhelmed or anxious about what is going on around them, familiarity breeds contentment.
Long-established video game franchises have made a big comeback. Children have returned to past favorites like Sonic, Animal jam and Clash of the clans (each jumped 50% or more in mentions year over year). angry Birds increased almost as much. Same Grand Theft Auto– barely soothing or kid-friendly content, but a game that had passed its prime – increased in everyday use. By comparison, few new games have appeared during the pandemic. Players Unknown Battlegrounds, a most popular (and controversial) battle royale game in Asia, has increased its audience in the United States. Another battle royale which is the best game in Brazil, Free fire, got its first spontaneous mentions in the United States.
On video, high adoption was expected for Disney +, but parents said they chose it for safe content the family could watch together. Series that already brought families together before the pandemic continued to show strength, especially cooking, competitions and game shows where parents and children could find a competitor or character to root for. Some have taken the on-screen action to real life, organizing their own cooking and baking games, or creating “ninja” obstacle courses. Reality TV shows, however, are not designed to be watched repeatedly, and it remains to be seen how long it will take to revert to a new production.
Longevity of loyalty
As families turn in on themselves, seeking solace in private bubbles, what will boost loyalty after the pandemic? We have identified three key elements. Was the platform or service responsive, inviting, and responsive to feedback? Did it help support a sense of normalcy when nothing was normal (like Roblox birthday parties or concerts via Minecraft and Fortnite)? And finally, did he respect children’s need for age-appropriate information that was neither frightening nor pampering?
When kids can play freely again, we anticipate a drop in media use as they drop devices and choose face-to-face play and sport.
Media companies shouldn’t worry, they will come back, but perhaps with a better balance between digital and physical play.
Paid entertainment services and relaxed uptime rules are the foreclosure practices most likely to reverse in the years to come. Parents were previously worried about their children’s dependence on technology and media, but put their concerns aside as TVs, phones, tablets and computers have become the only connection children have with them. entertainment, learning, play and friends. When that pressure is off and every time the kids go back to school, parents can “squeeze” into discounts to ease the bottom line of their membership. They’ll keep the platforms that continually refresh content (we’ve heard from parents before that Disney + needs new updates) and the ones that have the most emotional resonance (the platforms that keep kids from screaming). .
Even if the movies (and fans) return to theaters, it will be for shorter windows before moving on to cable or streamers. Now that families have recreated the home theater experience and at a much more affordable price, it will take more than soda and popcorn to bring them back. Theaters will likely need to step up the pre-pandemic practice of filling empty moments with programming of special events – live experiences that cannot be viewed at any other time or location.
Zoom will once again become a stable, business-oriented platform. Young people reached Zoom fatigue in the spring; if they need to endure another semester or year of virtual learning, along with video chats from family and friends, they’ll be well and truly done with it. Older children will once again focus on social play platforms and image or video based communication applications. Young children have never been suited to video meetings because they lack context for interaction, so parents will replace them in the long run with fun and specially designed platforms like Messenger Kids, Kinzoo, Marco Polo Video Chat and CBBC. Buzz.
Children trapped at home feel a strong need for connection, communication and care. They opt for reactive experiences. Fortnite added the Creative Playground where users can go on adventures with friends; authors and musicians performed live on YouTube; and podcasts have dropped new episodes on a predictable schedule to offer something to look forward to.
At Dubit, we’ve long been talking about ’emotional planning’ and the theory that the time of day – what one does and is about to do – is an indicator of mood state ( which determines decision-making regarding platforms and content). During the lockdown, however, time lost its meaning. Pre-pandemic peaks and troughs in media use have flattened into a constant “on”.
In 2022, young people may have occasional Zoom classes, trainings or meetings, but their time will largely be theirs and they will shape it according to their own needs and interests. It will be difficult to get them back to “push” the entertainment and learning. Content creators will need to relinquish some control and transform themselves into guides supporting the exploration of the personal passions of young people.
As we emerge from the pandemic in the years to come, we believe the loyalty will stay with content and platforms that make children feel special, engaged and encouraged. Families will keep their new social rituals while slowly expanding their circle. Winning brands should be flexible and fun.
We still have a long way to go before there is a fixed “new normal”. In the meantime, are you listening to your audience?
Dubit Trends is a periodic quantitative survey of children ages 2 to 15 in the US, UK and several other countries. The April 2020 wave captured adaptations in the first weeks of lockdown regarding device and platform usage, content discovery and choice, and buying patterns. To get an up-to-date snapshot that brings the stats to life, we interviewed parents in August using Dubit’s virtual research center, The Clickroom.
David Kleeman is Senior Vice President of Global Trends, and Adam woodgate is Senior Vice President of Media Information.