4 Ways Parents are Buying Online for (and with!) Their Kids


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Growing up in the digital age, children today are no strangers to social commerce and eCommerce. They have opinions about not just what to buy, but also where to make these purchases. This was true even before the pandemic, when 90% of parents said their children influenced their purchase decisions. Since then, the level of involvement children have on their parents’ decision has increased, leading to what many brands now recognize as family oriented eCommerce shopping habits and occasions. 

These are unique shopping habits for parents making purchases online for and sometimes with their kids. Among parents with kids under 18, 72 percent said the way they shop for their children has changed since lockdown. (Many parents weren’t even aware of all the behavioral changes they’ve made until they were asked!) 

1. Children are helping their parents research products, even if it isn’t for them

Whether in stores or online, shopping has become an increasingly hands-on family activity. That means children are often participatory in the discovery, research, and sometimes even the planning and purchasing of your brand’s product. In fact, 69 percent of parents allow their children to research products when buying in-store, while 67 percent have them research products when buying online. Some take it even further, and 56 percent of parents encourage their children to add items to a shopping list or shopping cart. 

Childrens’ influence isn’t limited to just products or services for kids—36 percent of parents report that their children have influence over purchasing decisions for household items and services as well. While the top-influenced product categories include toys and games (92%), it also includes food and beverages (88%). 

For brands who have parents and households in their target market, this may impact not only your creative format, but also the channels where you allocate media dollars. Make sure you are designing campaigns that engage both parents as well as kids at the channels they are participating in. Long form content on YouTube is helpful for product discovery, and looking into channels with younger audiences such as TikTok and Snapchat may also produce success. Review your creative while keeping in mind that it isn’t just the parents who are watching. 

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2. Millennial parents are tech savvy, price conscious, and know what they want

Many parents today are millennials who have grown up alongside technology and are digitally savvy. As parents, they are more likely to be time conscious and price conscious. When they’re looking to make a purchase, they know exactly what they are looking for. Whereas non-parents prefer more product options, parents only look for product variety only 10 percent of the time when shopping online.

This means that when targeting consumers who are parents, brands must do everything possible to shorten the path-to-purchase. One way to do so is making sure the creative says exactly what parents need to know up front. Another way is to ensure shopping traffic is driving to where products are in stock. When parents make purchases, especially for their kids, there is an added sense of urgency. If they can’t find what they want, they are more likely to search another website. If they ultimately can’t find your product in stock, they may turn to a competitor.

3. Convenience and flexibility at every step of the buying journey

Digitally savvy parents have been turning to eCommerce for convenience and to save time. This was especially true during the pandemic, where many parents took up full time childcare at home. Flexibility and convenience in omnichannel options were welcomed by busy parents trying to fit shopping and errands into their day. 

While eCommerce adoption among parents is rapidly growing, 29 percent of parents continue to buy a majority of their necessities from supermarkets, with Amazon close behind at 26 percent. 38 percent of parents are using omnichannel options like “buy online pick up in store” (BOPIS) to shop for their children more often than they were pre-pandemic. These parents noted that they were making fewer trips to the store, and children often stayed home during these in-person store visits.

For brands, this means that omnichannel fulfillment options are a must when selling to parents, who appreciate the flexibility offered to them. As kids go back to school, activities will also resume, and parents will lean even more on omnichannel commerce options, perhaps to make a purchase while at their child’s school event, and later collecting the purchase on the way home. Knowing that this will be a likely shopping scenario, geolocation data and geographic targeting become increasingly important. Fulfillment at local and nearby retailers will also become good eCommerce features to have.

4. Use social commerce for reaching Gen Z and Generation Alpha

Unsurprisingly, social commerce is the key to reaching Gen Z. and Generation Alpha. Fifty-seven percent of this technologically savvy group said that social media advertising is the most persuasive mode of advertisement to them, and 41 percent will tag their friends on Instagram when they spot a product they want to purchase. Additionally, online videos performed best for these groups at 24 percent, social media posts also do well at 19 percent, as well as TV adverts ranking highly at 19 percent. When it comes to top purchase consideration factors, 52 percent of children today, from Gen Z to Generation Alpha, report being influenced by specific brands, 48 percent consider product features, and 41 percent factor in specific retailers.

Why is this important for brands? Children grow up to be young adults with their own purchasing habits and disposable income—and they join the consumer demographics for your brand sooner than you think. Learning about their buying patterns and how they develop brand loyalty and trust will be key to helping brands stay ahead.

What do you think? Is your brand successfully appealing to both parents and children if families are making purchase decisions together? How are your campaigns performing across different channels with different demographics? Schedule a demo with us today and find out!

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